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Lebanon: Religious believer blacked out of film

13 March 2017
Lebanese-French filmmaker Philippe Aractingi had to censor one scene in his film 'Ismaii' (Listen) by covering a Druze cleric with a black mark.
Photo: Section of ‘Listen’ poster/Philippe Aractingi Facebook

 

Lebanese-French filmmaker Philippe Aractingi expected his latest film ‘Ismaii’ (Listen) to be censored due to some sex scenes in the film, however only one scene in the film was censored by covering a Druze cleric with a black mark, reported French news outlet Courrier International on 8 February 2017.

Though the film received approval from the country’s censorship authority, the appearance of the cleric angered some in religious circles, leading to objections, prompting Aractingi to censor the film by adding the black mark, reported Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar on 12 February 2017.

“It would have been technically difficult to remove the scene altogether, so I had to cover it,” the director told the newspaper. “While the black mark is a distortion, I had to abide by the agreement I made with the religious figure who had voiced his objection. I look forward to the day when he can have a cinema without censorship of any kind.”

The director said he had expected some problems with two intimate scenes in the film, which are rare in Lebanese cinema, but did not expect any problems with a scene involving the religious cleric.

The Druze faith is monotheistic and one of the major religious groups in the Levant, consisting of up to one million followers, who are found primarily in Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Druze followers are not considered Muslims and have been persecuted in the past, most recently by the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.

Films in Lebanon have been banned in the past for a variety of reasons due to political, religious or social reasons. Most recently, two films were pulled from the 16th Beirut International Film Festival in October 16 – one due to “insults to Lebanese personalities and parties”; the other, financed by an Israeli production company, due to Lebanon’s laws boycotting Israeli products.

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