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Lebanon: Two movies banned from film festival

6 June 2017

Two movies – ‘Beit Al-Baher’ and ‘Mawlana’ – were not granted screening permissions during the Beirut Cinema Days film festival.

Two movies – ‘Beit Al-Baher’ (The Beach House) and ‘Mawlana’ (The Preacher) – were not granted screening permissions during the Beirut Cinema Days film festival held in Beirut, Lebanon, from 15 to 24 March 2017, reported Stepfeed on 24 March 2017.

During the ninth edition of the festival the Lebanese censorship board enforced strict regulations on most films that were part of this year’s edition.

The festival organizers posted a statement on Facebook on 23 March 2017 saying that “the censor was stricter than in any previous year”, reporting that most of the movies were granted screening permissions at the last minute, just before their screening, while some others were obliged to edit or delete some scenes.

‘Beit Al-Baher’ film director Roy Dib said in a statement posted on the film’s Facebook page on 22 March 2017 that “there wasn’t a specific scene or phrase in the film that the censorship board had a problem with, they simply notified us that the entire film annoyed them”.

‘Beit Al-Baher’ tells the story of a group of friends who reunite after many years at a beach house in the south of Lebanon. The film contains scenes of nudity and drugs use, reported Mada Masr on 12 May 2017.

The festival organizers called for a protest and a discussion panel to address this censorship and invited people to meet on 24 March 2017 at Metropolis Cinema in Beirut’s Achrafieh district.

Egyptian movie ‘Mawlana’ created controversy in Egypt but still received a release permit and then became a box office hit in the country. Al Jazeera News reported on 23 January 2017 that Muslim leaders at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University said the film tarnishes the image of Islam and “paints Muslim scholars as unprincipled and state-controlled”.

‘Mawlana’ revolves around a popular television preacher who struggles to reconcile his religious principles with demands and pressures from politicians and security agencies, as well as ordinary human temptations. The film was also banned in Kuwait and Arab Emirates.

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