Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri told his fans on Saturday that the Lebanese government has banned the showing of his award-winning film “The Attack,” because it was partly shot in Tel Aviv using Israeli actors, AFP reported.
“I regret to inform you that the Interior Minister of Lebanon, Minister (Marwan) Charbel, has decided to punish us and the film by banning it… claiming that the reason for the rejection is that I, Ziad Doueiri, had spent time in Israel filming,” the director said in a statement on his Facebook page.
“To set things straight, I did shoot part of the film in Tel Aviv because this is where part of the story takes place. I used Israeli actors because also these were the artistic choices that I have made. And I have no regret and no apologies whatsoever.”
Minister Charbel told AFP the interior ministry had initially granted Doueiri a permit to film his movie in Israel, but revoked the permit after receiving a letter of protest from the Israel Boycott Office of the Cairo-based Arab League.
“We had no problem with the movie but when we received the protest letter… we could not oppose” their demand, he said.
“The Attack” was adapted from a novel by Algerian writer Yasmina Khadra, about an Israeli Arab surgeon living in Tel Aviv who discovers that his wife carried out a suicide bombing.
Last Monday, the annual French film festival in Hollywood City of Lights, City of Angels, concluded by Doueiri’s thriller three top prizes, including the Audience Award and the Special Critics’ Prize.
Doueiri previously directed the coming-of-age drama “Lila Says” (2004) and in the 1990s, was a camera assistant to Quentin Tarantino on four of his features including “Jackie Brown” and “Pulp Fiction.”
Doueiri dismissed the ban as “foolish and unfair,” pointing out that several Palestinian films shot in Israel with Israeli actors “and even with Israeli financing.. were allowed to screen in Lebanon.”
“Why them and not this film? Are the Lebanese supposed to carry the Palestinian flag higher than the Palestinians themselves?” Doueiri asked.
He AFP that banning the film ” tells us, filmmakers, that if we think outside the box, we’ll be considered pariahs and outlaws.”
Doueiri, who also won awards for his film “West Beirut,” also complained that the Lebanese interior ministry is refusing to allow his latest film to be included in a list of Lebanese films submitted to the Oscars.
Filmmakers in Lebanon must submit their scripts to the Lebanese interior ministry censors, who are empowered to block the showing of films that incite dissent, attacks morals, attack the authority of the state, or reflect Israeli propaganda.
The film, incidentally, is vehemently pro-Palestinian.