: Director Ziad Doueiri (2nd L) poses with actors Rita Hayek (R), Christine Choueiri (L) and Diamand Bou Abboud from the movie "The insult" - Reuters
CAIRO – 5 February 2018: The Lebanese film “Qadiyya Raqm 23” (The Insult) by Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri, was screened at Zawya Cinema on Wednesday, January 31.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Egypt movement launched an online campaign directly after the screening which called for the banning of the film in Egypt. The BDS stance comes because of Doueiri’s alleged history of Israeli normalization. Doueiri shot his previous movie “The Attack” in Israel.
Zawya cinema defended the screening by declaring that “The Insult” was not made with any financial support from Israel, nor directly engaged in Israeli propaganda. The banning campaign has steadily gained momentum throughout the past week.
The prominent Egyptian cinema critic Tarek el-Shenawy explained to Egypt Today that he watched the movie when it was screened at the first edition of El Gouna Film Festival; it was praised by both the audience and filmmakers and won an award at the festival.
As soon as Douieri flew back to Beirut after participating with his movie at the Valencia International Film Festival the Lebanese authorities stopped him at the airport and ordered him to appear before a military court to answer charges of treason. The reason was that he had shot his movie “The Attack” in Israel.
“Douieri confirmed previously that shooting “The Attack” in Israel was not a direct or indirect breach of the decisions of the boycott, and I wonder: if this is not normalization, then what is normalization?! I fully support the ban of “The Attack” in the entire Arab world because of the Israeli participation in its implementation,” El-Shenawy recounted.
Despite this El-Shenawy questions about why “The Insult” is controversial, he added that is anyone heading to Ramallah will be considered normalizing with Israel because he or she will pass by an Israeli checkpoint? True, there is nothing official about the passport, but there is a paper from the Israeli security authorities that gives the holder the right to pass. “The normalization with Israel’s dress is full of holes, but definitely “The Insult” is not one of them,” El-Shenawy admitted.
“I regard boycotting Zawya cinema for its film screening "The Insult" as the silliest thing I have heard in a long time, because Zawya is the only cinema that screen respectable and high quality movies,” the veteran Egyptian director Dawoud Abdel Sayed wrote on his official Facebook account.
Abdel Sayed said that this ban will not at all harm Israel and it is much easier for anyone who is against the movie or its director to simply not to watch the movie, leaving the rest who want to watch the movie to just watch and judge.
“The Insult” was nominated for a Foreign Language Film Oscar. The nomination was considered a huge achievement; not only for the Lebanese cinema but for the Arab Cinema as a whole.
"It was such good news when we got it, because this is the first time Lebanon arrives at the Oscars and you know you offer a little bit of hope,” Doueiri previously told Reuters. "It's like winning a medal, it’s like going to the Olympics and your team for the first time wins the bronze medal or the silver medal."
“The Insult” revolves around the character of Tony played by Lebanese actor Adel Karam and Palestinian refugee Yasser played by Yasser el-Basha who exchanged harsh words after Yasser tries to fix a drainpipe on Tony's balcony. The clash between them leads to violence, courtroom confrontations and national attention.
The media circus surrounding the case puts Lebanon in a critical social situation, pushing Tony and Yasser to reconsider their lives, prejudices and points of views.
“The Insult” also stars Rita Hayek, Camille Salameh, Diamand Bou Abboud, Talal Jurdi, amongst others. The movie is written by Ziad Doueiri and Joelle Touma and directed by Ziad Doueiri.
"The Insult" was screened in Lebanon despite the controversy surrounding the movie . The other nominees for Best Foreign Language Film in 2018 include "A Fantastic Woman" from Germany, "Loveless" from Russia, "On Body and Soul" from Hungary and "The Square" from Sweden.