Since its first edition in 1946, the Cannes Film Festival’s mission was to bring international directors and movie professionals together under one umbrella to support and develop the refined art of filmmaking.
Jean Cocteau, the president of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1953, 1954 and 1957, said that “the Festival is an apolitical no-man’s-land, a microcosm of what the world would be like if people could make direct contact with one another and speak the same language.”
Lebanon, as per its geographical location by the Mediterranean Sea, has always welcomed openness to different trades and interaction with other civilisations as different as they may be. Along the way, this trait got engraved in every Lebanese citizen’s DNA, and pushed him to spread his net further, reaching borders across the horizon, including the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
The Lebanese film industry has an extensive collection on Cannes’ wall of fame; we proudly put together the list of Lebanese films that made it up the red-carpeted stairs of the French festival.
1958: The first Lebanese film to represent Lebanon at the Cannes Film Festival was Georges Nasser’s “Ila Ayn?”
1961: “The Little Stranger“, the second film to land in Cannes by our own Georges Nasser was nominated for the Golden Palm.
1974: London-based Lebanese director Heiny Srour was the first female Arab filmmaker to have her work, “Saat El Tahrir Dakkat“, selected for the Cannes Film Festival.
1982: “Little Wars” by Maroun Baghdadi was done with the precious help of the world-renowned American filmmaker Francis Coppola. The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival.
1985: Jocelyne Saab’s first feature film, “Suspended Life”, shot in the middle of Beirut and the civil war, was selected for the Cannes Film Festival.
1991: Maroun Baghdadi’s second participation at the Cannes Film Festival with his film, “Out of Life“, resulted in taking home the Jury Prize that year.
2002 : Terra Incognita, directed by Ghassan Salhab, was screened in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival.
2007: Two films by two Lebanese ladies were at Cannes that year: Nadine Labaki’s first feature film, “Caramel”, and Danielle Arbid’s “A Lost Man” were both presented in the Directors’ Fortnight section.
2008: Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige joined the esteemed Cannes Film Festival shortlist with “Je Veux Voir (I Want To See)”, in which they directed French actress Catherine Deneuve. The film ran in the Official Selection, under the Un Certain Regard section.
2011: Nadine Labaki’s second time at the Cannes Film Festival with “Where Do We Go Now?”, which wins the Prix Francois Chalais.