As the Lebanese film industry continues to expand at home, efforts are also being made to present the country as a viable location for foreign productions. In an effort to increase the visibility of Lebanon as a filming location, the Tourism Office of Lebanon in Paris and the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism have commissioned Fantascope Production, director Philippe Aractingi’s production company to produce a video – along with several shorter edits – showcasing the diverse settings, including the luscious countryside and buzzing metropolis’, with interviews from some of the main players in the industry.

This promotional video is the brainchild of Serge Akl, the director of the Tourism Office of Lebanon in Paris, and a direct result of his collaboration with Minister Michel Pharaon who gave this issue his personal attention. As Serge describes it, the video has a double objective:

  1. Showcasing the availability of local professionals and skilled crews that can effortlessly take on projects and execute them as per international standards,
  2. And promoting Lebanon as a filmmaking destination; From the snowcapped mountain peaks to the narrow streets of Beirut, the video’s stunning visuals shows off the diverse landscapes that Lebanon has to offer, and this desire to show the multifaceted nature of the country as a filming destination comes across loud and clear.

Serge admits that the French market is one of their main targets, but it isn’t their only focus. “Lebanon’s only coproduction agreement is with France, it is a natural thing that this video targets the French market and French filmmakers, but obviously we don’t want to limit ourselves. We are very interested in attracting other filming teams from other European countries, but we are not ruling out the possibility of securing deals with the American markets.

For the video, Serge was able to secure the help of a number of the most highly regarded people working in the film industry, who enthused at length about the benefits of filming in the country, and how it differs from other Middle Eastern and North African regions. Notable names include, Pierre Sarraf from Né à Beyrouth, Maya De Freige, the president of Fondation Liban Cinéma and Lara Karam Chekerdjian from Ginger Beirut Productions. In a testament to the country as a viable location, the video also features French filmmaker Robert Guédiguian who has had experience filming in Lebanon.

Last but not least, the video is also just one additional component in a much larger machine: The Lebanese film industry has no desire to explode onto the world stage, but rather to earn a place on it with steady and well-considered progress. “The aim is not to move towards the French system that’s particular to France, nor is it to import the British or American systems. Our goal is to build our own structure from scratch to help filmmakers and artists that need a hand”, says Serge.

by Hugo Goodridge