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Lebanese film industry in shambles over ailing economy

News report by Ayoub Khaddaj

BEIRUT, Aug 17 (KUNA) -- Over recent years, the Lebanese film industry has been in an utter shambles due to the country's ailing economy.
Despite the dire situation, those involved in the industry are trying to bring film and cinema back to the forefront of the cultural scene to continue the scene's legacy that began in the 1930s.
Film producer Myriam Sassine told KUNA that the Lebanese cinema and film industry was thriving post-2000 when around two feature-length films were produced annually.
In 2019, around 20 to 30 films of various durations were produced within Lebanon, Sassine revealed, noting that the scene was thriving until the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and the economy went into a freefall.
She indicated that the lowest estimate for film production was around USD 200,000 and that number was astronomical, especially in the time of an economic crisis.
Talent is available in Lebanon; however, liquidity and money were essential parts of bringing the industry to the level witnessed prior to the pandemic and failing economy, Sassine affirmed.
On his part, film Director Samir Habchi reiterated that the main issue facing Lebanese cinema was funding, adding that finding the money to produce socially conscious films was an extra struggle.
The Lebanese market by itself was not capable nowadays to produce films, a partner from abroad was essential for that purpose, Habchi affirmed.
The director revealed that film production might reach USD 500,000 and to breakeven, at least 300,000 viewers must be interested in seeing the film, and at the time of economic upheaval that would be impossible.
President of the Lebanon Cinema Foundation Maya de Freige called for launching a sort of creative economy to help fund films in her country, saying that it was preposterous to peg film funding with the country's economic situation.
She indicated that the foundation had launched last June an initiative with the EU aimed at reviving Lebanese cinema via holding guiding and training courses for Lebanese producers supervised by experts and also establishing one-time 75,000 euros (USD 76,000) fund from the EU to help in the production of films in Lebanon.
De Freige announced that the doors would be opened in November for Lebanese feature films and documentaries in production or post-production to benefit from the fund. (end) ayb.gta