Anthony Chidiac, who studied at IESAV (Université Saint-Joseph) in Beirut, is a young Lebanese filmmaker, who has already seen success with his short documentary “Equal Men” and the fiction project “Maman Non Merci”. Now he has taken on a monumental project with his first feature length documentary film “Room for a Man”, and so far his hard work has paid off with positive feedback. This year he will be showing at the Cannes Market.
What’s the topic of your film?It’s about a state of transition that hasn’t happened yet. The project is an attempt at universality. I want to take the audience from my room’s intimacy to a universal space. Somewhere undefined where you, them & I, are co-habitants of the same existence. I truly believe that there is one world for all of us; that societies divide us, and cinema will reunite us.
What drew you to the subject matter of your documentary?I didn’t think a lot before choosing the subject of my documentary; it simply bounced out of my heart. I needed to prove to myself that I am able to achieve something through my art. For a first film, it was essential that I started to look at my desires and my fears. I needed to understand who I was, and where I wanted to go.
It all started with a small camera at home. It was during a hard latent time where I was unemployed, refusing to give up to the Lebanese system and trying to overcome my insecurities, that the film started taking form.
The filming process when we got funded followed the same path. A more sophisticated camera and sound equipment were my tools.
I spent a lot of time alone. I think it’s the loneliness that I have filmed. Everyday and every night, in every corner of the house I found something that provoked my curiosity, my anger, and my rebelliousness. I really hope this film will be an opening to better days.
How was the experience of filming your first feature length documentary?It was a 4 year master class: I learned how to be patient, how to work with a professional producer, what to expect from markets and forums, how to take decisions, and most importantly to believe in myself and in the producers who believed in me. Carole Abboud, from c.cam production, had been alongside the project from the very beginning. Later on, Talal Al-Muhanna of Linked Productions, our Kuwaiti-American producer, joined the journey, which helped us a lot to connect with the international markets. Confidence is really important and it rarely comes for free. I think it comes in a package, in conjunction with the people you work with. I gained a lot from this experience, especially since it was my first time working with professional standards. Being the director, the DOP, the sound engineer, the line producer, and the editor was quite challenging. Currently I am in the middle of the editing process; Carine Doumit, the editing consultant, is accompanying me for this stage. What I really got out from this first experience is that films do not happen as fast as I thought.
How did you finance it?If I knew how to get the money myself I probably wouldn’t have made this sort of film. When I first talked with Carole about the film, I was afraid that films of this genre would never have a chance. Her financial planning was a tremendous help, as was her faith in me and the project. We’ve already received a production grant from AFAC (Arab Fund for Arts and Culture) and Screen Institute Beirut and I also won 2 post-production awards facilities at the Malmo Film Festival. We are doing our best for further financial accomplishments.
How did you get the opportunity to show at Cannes and what are you hoping to gain from it?We are showing at the film at the Cannes Market as part of the Fondation Liban Cinema project “Lebanon Goes to Cannes”. It’s a good opportunity to appear in Cannes at this early stage of the film editing, even though I always avoid high expectations. I’ve been enjoying the journey of my film going from one market to another over the past three years. I hope we get the appreciation for all the efforts Lebanese filmmakers are making.