A CITY DI­VIDED

‘The In­sult’ takes on taboos of Le­banon’s civil war

Global Times US Edition - - LIFE -

Western coun­tries.

The 1990 peace ac­cord that ended it never brought a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion process.

In­stead, Le­banon’s par­lia­ment is­sued a gen­eral amnesty ab­solv­ing all par­ties of war crimes.

Open­ing old wounds

Al­most 20 years later, The In­sult carves out an am­bi­tious goal: Open­ing old wounds to pave the way to a much­needed, if be­lated, re­demp­tion.

The movie, set in the post-war era, cen­tres around a le­gal dis­pute be­tween Chris­tian na­tion­al­ist Tony, played by Le­banese ac­tor and co­me­dian Adel Karam, and Pales­tinian refugee Yasser, played by Basha.

A dis­agree­ment be­tween the men over a wa­ter pipe snow­balls into a court case and then into a vi­o­lent, na­tional cri­sis, open­ing up a Pan­dora’s box of old griev­ances, prej­u­dices, and trauma.

The film has been praised by Le­banese crit­ics for deal­ing frankly with the un­re­solved is­sues of the civil war.

“The movie opens a nec­es­sary win­dow to look on the rem­nants of Le­banese mem­ory that we are not al­lowed to go near, dis­cuss, or ask ques­tions about,” Le­banese movie critic Nadim Jar­joura said.

“The In­sult also deals with a lot of other is­sues, in­clud­ing rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with one­self. You can­not rec­on­cile with the other with­out rec­on­cil­ing with your­self,” he added.

“You need to re­turn to the past to leave it.”

The film con­tains se­quences of force­ful lan­guage and com­mu­nal ten­sion rarely de­picted in Le­banese cinema.

“Sharon should have an­ni­hi­lated

‘Still at war’

Tony in turn finds him­self as­saulted with screams of “Zion­ist dog” dur­ing a court hear­ing be­tween the men, evok­ing the still-con­tro­ver­sial al­liance that formed be­tween some Chris­tian fac­tions and the Jewish state against Pales­tini­ans in Le­banon.

“There’s no side in the war that can say it, alone, was per­se­cuted,” 54-yearold Doueiri told AFP.

“No sin­gle side can say it was the only one that was hurt. There will al­ways be an­other side that has the right to say that the war spilt its blood, too.”

The In­sult de­picts the Le­banese as not yet hav­ing turned the page on the civil war, while their coun­try is riven by new di­vi­sions in­clud­ing ten­sions re­lated to the con­flict in neigh­bor­ing Syria and the is­sue of the ar­se­nal of the pow­er­ful Le­banese mil­i­tant group Hezbol­lah.

When Tony’s lawyer asks if he would take up arms to­day, he replies, “We’re still at war.”

“I’m not Je­sus Christ to turn the other cheek,” he says else­where in the film. “No, we are not all brothers.”

The film of­fers no easy an­swers, but a path to grad­ual rec­on­cil­i­a­tion emerges be­tween the men.

The screen­ing ended with a heavy si­lence, with the au­di­ence sit­ting qui­etly as the ti­tles scrolled.

But it pro­voked dis­cus­sions, in­clud­ing be­tween a fa­ther and son who were still locked in an­i­mated de­bate nearly an hour later.

“You can’t think like that, Dad, the civil war is over,” the teenager could be heard telling his white-haired fa­ther.

Photo: IC

Pro­ducer An­toun Sehnaoui (left) and di­rec­tor Ziad Doueiri ar­rive at the Beirut Souks cinema for the premiere of movie The In­sult, in Beirut, Le­banon, on Tues­day.

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