The Attack is that kind of movies that spring controversies without people even watching it. When I first blogged about it (link) back in December 2012, I asked the obvious question: will the movie having to do with Israel, being shot there and whatnot, deter it from being screened here?
For a while, it seemed the answered would be no – the movie had gotten its permit for screening approved back in September:
Then came Oscar time and the movie’s director made a big deal out of our ministry of culture refusing to have his movie represent Lebanon at the Oscars. People panicked: what an act of cultural terrorism, etc… I thought the ministry of culture’s decision was spot-on. It was simply choosing not to submit the movie for an award show, not banning people from watching it. Regardless of how excellent the movie is, does it represent Lebanon enough for it to be our submission for the Oscars? I hardly think so (link).
However, things have taken yet another turn. The permit shown above was asked to be returned by relevant authorities because minister Marwan Charbel decided to ban “The Attack” from being shown in Lebanese theaters. The justification for that was exactly the initial question I had asked way back when: part of the movie was shot in Israel.
Now the decision to ban the movie is downright unacceptable:
- Lebanon has had Palestinian movies released in it, some of which have had parts of them shot in Israel. Paradise Now anyone?
- The movie is not an Israeli movie for us to maybe fathom banning it. There are Israeli actors in it but that doesn’t mean the movie is funded by the Israeli government.
- How about we start banning all movies with parts that may have been shot in Tel Aviv? I can think of many American movies with Israel-centric scenes. Or do we just panic when it’s a Lebanese filmmaker?
- What’s the point really of banning a movie with a sequence shot in Israel? It doesn’t end the occupation, it doesn’t serve a higher moral purpose and there’s no point to it at all.
- Shouldn’t the ministry of interior affairs have more serious things at hand? For instance, shouldn’t they be working on an electoral law? How about working on all the racist municipalities issuing curfews against Syrians? Or better yet, why not work on the deteriorating security situation in the country? Oh wait, movie shot in Israel trumps all of those anytime of the day.
We have reached a time where our government doesn’t even know that I can download whatever movie they ban with a few clicks (and a 24 hour waiting time given our internet). The moment “The Attack” becomes available online is the moment I get to watch it. And I’ll see that Tel Aviv scene and I won’t panic nor will I become a traitor nor will some feeling inside me move towards our Southern enemy. Who’s the only entity hurting from such archaic and irrelevant bans? The filmmaker who’s hurting financially and Lebanon’s reputation as a country for freedom, being dragged daily towards the abyss by minds still stuck in 1864.
Good job Marwan Charbel. One day you sign a civil marriage contract, the other you ban a movie – because keeping a good streak is too mainstream.