Tannoura Maxi is Banned in Lebanon

Because the government has so much free-time on its hands,

Because nothing else is important & going on nowadays,

Because there’s nothing wrong in Lebanon that needs to be rectified,

Because our threshold for offenses is so damn low and our pride so damn high,

Because our journalists are so keen on research,

Because our TV stations can’t wait to eat up a controversy,

Tannoura Maxi has been banned in Lebanon, following a request by the Lebanese Catholic Information Center. Hate or like the movie, you can’t but be against such a thing. If you think this is irrelevant compared to what the country is going through, you are right. But then think about how such a decision came to be in the light of what the country is going through and you’ll come to the same conclusion I got to.

This is pitiful. This is a disgrace. This is an insult to our intelligence and our freedom. This is an insult to Christianity, an insult to the Bible and an insult to anything Jesus Christ stood for.

Christian priests, are you happy? I am a Christian and I’m telling you – you are disgusting. You are so narrow-minded that if I tried to look through the hole that is your mind, the only thing I can see is emptiness. Is that what they teach you at whatever school you go through to become priests? To close in your mind and get offended at anything that touches on your religion in a way you find unfavorable?

How does this reflect on us, Christians, when your narrow-mindedness if the only thing people can see of us? Have you perhaps wondered that if some people decided to convert from Christianity because of a movie like Tannoura Maxi, however unlikely that may be, it’s not the movie’s fault but it’s your own? Or it’s perhaps because you don’t want the reality of having so many people with so little faith on your hands that you are panicking about anything and everything?

Weren’t you offended, dear priests, by Muslims smashing statues of the Virgin Mary in Where Do We Go Now? Weren’t you offended by them faking a miracle and saying the word “waté” in church? Weren’t you offended by one of the actresses throwing dirt at the statue of the Virgin Mary?

Or is “offending” religions also hypocritical in Lebanon, some can get away with it while others are burned at the stake?

The whole idea of bans in Lebanon needs to be banned. Censorship is never the solution. Prohibition should never be allowed. Religious men should not be permitted near anything that exceeds their field. Go to your churches, parishes and mosques and leave books, movies and TV shows alone.

A Lebanese Priest On Tannoura Maxi’s Potential Ban in Lebanon

If you don’t want to hear it from me, how about you listen to someone who’s among the most concerned (Arabic article) with Tannoura Maxi?

Father George Massouh, who teaches at the University of Balamand, wrote an article for Annahar in which he discussed the matter from the perspective of basic liberties, without even watching the movie.

Sects in Lebanon today, he said, are not only hijacking a person’s sense of nationalism but they are also attempting to take over people’s taste by trying to dictate what they can or cannot watch. And he’s totally right.

Religions are supposedly a voice for liberties – none of them, in theory, ask for oppression. Those who start oppressive measures are the people whose understanding of religion is quite limited. Do you think Jesus would be offended by Tannoura Maxi? There’s only one answer to this question and it’s a no. One only needs to look at the Bible and read the teachings of the Man to know that such a thing wouldn’t register on His radar of relevance, which begs the question: who are we offending here?

The answer is simple. Our Christian pride.

I think Christians in Lebanon have reached a point of mass hysteria, especially with the recent events in Tripoli, where they’re feeling increasingly threatened, unjustifiably so. Even though their reason is telling them they have nothing to worry about, their passion is telling them to grasp at anything that might make them feel strong and in control. Tannoura Maxi turned out to be the casualty.

The argument I’ve heard being tossed around: “But if this had happened with them, the whole country would have burned.”

Perhaps so. But two wrongs don’t make a right especially when it comes to something that touches on basic liberties. The moment we start compromising on what we allow others and ourselves to be exposed to is the moment we start biding farewell to our position in Lebanese society and the region. And that’s the true danger we are facing, not some irrelevant extremists whose effect far transcends their actual size.

Father Massouh concludes his article by saying: instead of asking for bans on things that we think are offending religions, we need to use civilized platforms to get the message across. Clergy and religious figures nowadays are only contributing to increasing ignorance among the people by failing to grasp that point.

So, as I said, instead of making a big deal out of Tannoura Maxi’s religious content, just let the movie be. For religions that have been around for thousands of years, how big of a threat can a movie be? In the grand scheme of things, it’s totally irrelevant. How about we see it as such instead of asking what religious people shouldn’t ask for: a policy of bans and limiting freedom?

Tannoura Maxi – To Ban or Not to Ban? To Watch or Not to Watch?


A woman running towards a Church. She barges in, takes some dirt and throws them at a statue of the Virgin Mary, shouting at Her. Do you remember that scene? If you don’t, it’s a scene in Nadine Labaki’s Where Do We Go Now.
I see no one who has a problem with that scene.

Tannoura Maxi, a new Lebanese movie, is being challenged as an offense to Christianity. What’s the content of the movie that might be offensive?

1 – Sexy outfits in church
2 – Flirtatious and suggestive looks during Mass
3 – Talk about sex in church
4 – Sex scene in a convent to church bells.

So in a nutshell, it undermines the role of clergy and apparently portrays the Lebanese Forces in a bad light. The movie is supposed to be taking place during civil war Lebanon. It’s the story of a priest falling for a girl. Overdone? Definitely. Nauseating? Beyond any doubt. Should it be banned? Hell no.

The movie is somewhat autobiographical for the director whose father, a deacon, fell for his mother while on his way to priesthood. In Tannoura Maxi, however, the main character is not a deacon but a priest, who’s not allowed to act on this type of impulses. Is that reason enough for the outrage?
If priests alone represented Christianity, then we are in deep trouble. If representing priests in bad ways in movies is now frowned upon, then we are in deeper trouble. Has anyone watched the movie “Doubt” where a priest is accused of being sexually-abusive to a child?
Has anyone watched or read “The Hunchback of Notre Dame?” – Belle, the song from the play, has the following lyric: “O Fleur de Lys, si je ne suis pas un homme de foi, j’irai ceuillir la fleur d’amour d’Esmeralda.” [I am not a man of faith, I will go and collect Esmeralda’s flower of love].
I don’t see anyone being offended by that as well.

Is anything priesthood and Christianity-related offensive only when it’s done by Lebanese and tolerable when done by everyone else?

Think about this for a second. Would The DaVinci Code have been the phenomenon it was in Lebanon had it not been banned?

I haven’t watched Tannoura Maxi and I don’t intend to – not because of its religious content but because of its content in general.
The movie is directed and written by Joe Bou Eid. His previous works include Miriam Fares music videos. Enough said.
The movie’s script was presented to a priest for approval, lacking anything that might be controversial. So they double crossed a priest in order to get what they want.
A Lebanese movie about religion, set during the civil war… How original! At least Where Do We Go Now had an interesting take on the topic. But if Nadine Labaki does another war-related movie, I, for one, will be far less accepting.

Moreover, if director Joe Bou Eid wants to take a jab at the Lebanese Forces and make it seem legitimate, I suggest he does it in a serious movie that is not pushing people to nausea when they watch. So regarding that matter, I think Tannoura Maxi is irrelevant enough to be of any relevance. The LF have nothing to worry about.
The director said the LF admit they did “bad stuff” during the war. Well, so did everyone else. I don’t see him addressing that. But you know how it is with Christians in Lebanon – we have chosen our war-scapegoat in the form of the LF. Anything else simply wouldn’t make sense. God forbid anyone else did bad things.

I don’t want to watch Tannoura Maxi because everything I’ve heard about the movie can be summed up in the following way: it’s a waste of time, money, talent. It’s a waste of your neurons firing to keep you awake during the movie. It’s a waste of the effort that your brain has to do in order for you to watch the movie.

So now you know why there’s a story about it being offensive to Christianity? Controversy brings audience. Just ignore it and Tannoura Maxi will die a slow, painful death.

Finally I ask Lebanese movie makers this to ponder on this: when you need to spring up controversy to get your movies noticed, you know you’re doing it wrong. How about you focus on making decent movies, worthy of the budgets you’re getting, instead of regurgitating the same topic again and again and again and then following the same marketing tactics to put your movies on radars?

The trailer of Tannoura Maxi: