In downtown Beirut, a crumbling movie theater, abandoned by investors since the start of the civil war in 1975, provides a metaphor for the Lebanese cinema industry.
The gray concrete structure, standing on pillars and nicknamed “the Egg” for its shape, became the focus of protests during the October 2019 “thawra”, or revolution.
The demonstrators were not only protesting against sectarian rule and corruption, they were also expressing their love for cinema, an industry in which Lebanon has always been a pioneer in the Arab world. The protests were a tribute to Lebanese cinema and its reputation as a cultural beacon in the Middle East. (See a related article, “In Lebanon, Sect Vs. Sect Turns Into People Vs. Politicians.”)
Today, the Egg is again deserted, casting its gloomy shadow over the city center which was partly destroyed by the catastrophic explosion in Beirut’s port last year. While the building still stands, the country is heading towards a massive collapse, which does not spare the cinema and artistic creation.
The question is: Will Lebanese cinema manage to resist, and at what price?