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Lebanese Censorship Bans Two Movies in 'Maskoon' Festival

Lebanese Censorship Bans Two Movies in 'Maskoon' Festival

Saturday, 3 November, 2018 - 07:00
People watch a 3D movie at the newly-opened Minglar cinema in Yangon, Myanmar on April 19, 2012. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

The third edition of "Maskoon", the first festival in the Arab region, specializing in horror, fantasy, thriller, action and science fiction movies, was launched on Wednesday at the Metropolis Cinema, Ashrafieh. The opening saw the display of "The Guilty" movie - its original title: Den Skyldige - by the Danish Gustav Mueller; the movie won the Audience Award at the Sundance and Rotterdam Film Festivals.

Maskoon's organizers announced during the opening that the censorship authorities banned two films from being showed at the festival: one short Lebanese film enlisted in the festival competition, and the second is a French film that won one of Cannes Festival awards.

Myriam Sassine, the festival's director, said in a speech that censorship had decided to ban two films for vague and unclear reasons: The Climax, winner of the Directors' Week Award at the Cannes Film Festival this year, directed by the French-Argentine director Gaspard Noé, and a short Lebanese film entitled "Nocturnal Deconstruction" by Laura El Alam.

"Banning the screening of these two films has made us feel this year that we have actually entered the family of Lebanese festivals and Lebanese cultural activities. Of course, we reject this censorship and we will continue to raise the voice against it, and most importantly not to get used to it, and not to see it as normal."

"We reached a time when films can be found anywhere and anyone can see them, so by banning these movies, censorship is only harming cultural activities, directors and people who seek to create positive initiatives in Lebanon," she said.

She explained that the "Al-Shams Tole't" movie will remain in the competition, although it cannot be showed in Lebanon. The 16-minute film tells the story of a woman who has decided to overcome the void in her life by trying a drug that eliminates the problems of self-confidence, and allows everyone who takes it to love himself again.

"The Climax" movie, which was enlisted in the international shows, tells the story of French dancers who met to train on a winter night at a distant and deserted school. But their nighttime celebration turned into a nightmare when they discovered that the sangria they drank contained hallucinogenic pills.

On the other hand, Sassine explained that "Maskoon" is not a festival for horror movies only, but also for films that depict reality in a new form, like action movies, thriller, suspense, black comedy, horror and science fiction."

She also described "Maskoon" as "a space and a forum for filmmakers bored from the reality surrounding them, and want to express this reality in different ways."

"Maskoon" has become a member of the European Union Fantasia Festivals "which includes the best festivals of fantasy in the world," Sassine announced.

The festivals' Artistic director Antoine Waked pointed out that the festival program includes three Arabic films, describing them as "tangible examples on the presence of film genre cinema in the Arab region, which is being introduced in a successful way."

Waked explained the festival's schedule in details, and expressed his regret for the ban of "The Climax" film, saying "this movies was made to be shown in cinemas, and its artistic value appears on the big screen, but now everyone will see it via DVD, or download it from the internet, so all the censorship has done was depriving people from the chance to see it on the big screen," he said.

It is worth noting that Abbout Productions is organizing the festival for the third year in row, in cooperation with the Metropolis Association, the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA) and the Cinemoz website.

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