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24th February 2014
Beirut in black & white
Title of film: Beirut Bel Aswad Wel Abiad (Beirut In Black & White)
Director: Marie-Louise & Marie-Noel
We catch up with two young Lebanese filmmakers about their masters short film project

This gem of a film, Beirut In Black and White, is a the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts Masters project written and directed by Marie-Louise Elia and produced by Marie-Noël Bou Haila. Here we catch up with the two young Lebanese film makers.

Was this film part of your film school studies? And what are you up to now?

We made this film during our 4th year in ALBA (Academie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts, the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts).
MARIE-LOUISE: I’m taking some freelance editing jobs and I’m going to New York to attend a screenwriting workshop.
MARIE-NOEL: I’m working as a freelancer, production coordinator and production manager in advertising and documentary mainly with Clandestino films, as well as first assistant director floor with Periba Productions, travelling to Muscat, Sultanate of Oman (for TV programs).

Have you always lived in Beirut? Did you write the narrative, is it reflective of your own feelings about the city?

MARIE-LOUISE & MARIE-NOEL: I’ve never lived in Beirut, only in its suburbs. The movie expresses my personal mixed feelings towards the city, the love-hate relationship, discovering a city that I barely knew through the process of making this film.
MARIE-NOEL: Plus, I was interested to work with, and help Marie-Louise because I love Beirut and I love the soul of this city.

It’s beautifully filmed – was it a straight forward shoot, and what were the major challenges of the production?

Most of the shots were planned ahead of the shoot, but others were improvised (especially the ones during the monologues). We found a cat in a street and followed it around, which lead to some interesting shots.
MARIE-NOEL: I loved those shooting days and I’m proud to be the producer of this short movie.

MARIE-LOUISE: I started writing the script during November 2011 and the film was shot on the first week of January.
MARIE- NOEL: We ran into a couple of problems especially with the weather and the rain, the permission to shoot in the airport as well as the one to shoot in the streets. The difficulty was to obtain the permission to shoot in Downtown Beirut, which is really not easy to get it because of the security situation…
This is a very low budget film and we focused on preparing everything within the budget, we looked for sponsors and discounts etc.

What part of the film making process do you enjoy the most?

MARIE-LOUISE : My favourite part of the filmmaking process was writing the script followed by directing, then editing.
MARIE NOEL: My favourite was the preparations phase, because I love production, and I love to be the one organizing everything from A to Z. The favorite moment is when the director has finished the editing and we can see all the hard work transformed into a lovely short movie.