First Lebanese film shortlisted for foreign-language Oscar

Rita Hayek in a scene from ‘The Insult’
Updated 16 December 2017
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First Lebanese film shortlisted for foreign-language Oscar

JEDDAH: “The Insult” has become the first Lebanese film to make the foreign-language Oscar shortlist.
“Thank you to the cast and to the Lebanese and French crew. Thank you to the producers,” tweeted the director, Ziad Doueiri.
“You were all so dedicated to this project. You were the reason why we’re here. We already won! — ZD #Oscars2018 #TheInsult.”
In the film, set in modern Beirut, a Lebanese Christian and a Palestinian refugee wind up in court. As their case comes under media scrutiny, they are forced to reconsider their lives and prejudices.
Cast members include Adel Karam, Rita Hayek, Kamel El-Basha, Christine Choueiri, Camille Salameh, Diamand Bou Abboud and Julia Kassar.
Doueiri drew inspiration from two American films: Michael Mann’s “The Insider” and Sidney Lumet’s “12 Angry Men.”
Doueiri’s movie scooped the American Film Institute Festival’s Audience Award, beating 13 other foreign-language Oscar contenders in November.
“The Insult” will be released on Jan. 26, 2018, in select theaters in the US.
Nine films are vying for an Academy Award nomination in the foreign-language category: Chile’s “A Fantastic Woman,” Germany’s “In the Fade,” Hungary’s “On Body and Soul,” Israel’s “Foxtrot,” Lebanon’s “The Insult,” Russia’s “Loveless,” Senegal’s “Felicite,” South Africa’s “The Wound” and Sweden’s “The Square.”
Five films are typically nominated for foreign-language Oscar consideration, and the nominees will be announced on Jan. 23. The Academy Awards will be held on March 4 in Los Angeles.


Pressures and pains that tear a couple apart

A still from the film.
Updated 19 July 2018
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Pressures and pains that tear a couple apart

DENVER: Like a gallery wall-sized enlargement of a microscopic image, “Scenes from a Marriage” is all about size, space and perspective.
Directed by Ingmar Bergman — whose birth centenary was marked this week — at 281 minutes long, its unwieldly length presents an intimidating canvas, yet the claustrophobic intimacy of its gaze is unprecedented: The two leads are alone in nearly every scene, many of which play out for more than a half-hour at a time.
Premiered in 1973, the work is technically a TV mini-series, but such is its legend that theaters continue to program its nearly five-hour arc in its entirety. A three-hour cinematic edit was prepared for US theater consumption a year later (it won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but was ruled ineligible for the corresponding Oscar).
Not a lot a happens but, then again, everything does. Shot over four months on a shoestring budget, its six chapters punctuate the period of a decade. The audience are voyeurs, dropped amid the precious and pivotal moments which may not make up a life, but come to define it.
We meet the affluent Swedish couple Marianne and Johan — played by regular screen collaborators Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson, both of whom clocked at least 10 Bergman credits — gloating about ten years’ happy marriage to a visiting reporter. This opening magazine photoshoot is the only time we see their two children on camera, and inevitably the image projected is as glossy, reflective and disposable as the paper it will be printed on.
The pressures, pains and communication breakdowns which tear this unsuited pair apart are sadly familiar. The series was blamed for a spike in European divorce rates. It may be difficult to survive the piece liking either lead, but impossible not to emerge sharing deep pathos with them both. Sadly, much of the script is said to be drawn from Bergman’s real-life off-screen relationship with Ullmann.
It’s a hideously humane, surgical close-up likely to leave even the happiest couple groping into the ether on their way out of the cinema.