Nadine Labaki Wins Big at Cannes, but What About the Martyr's... & Phoenicia?

Published May 22nd, 2018 - 01:08 GMT
Nadine Labaki while receiving the award at Cannes Film Festival. (AFP)
Nadine Labaki while receiving the award at Cannes Film Festival. (AFP)

By Randa Darwish

While Lebanese are celebrating actress and director Nadine Labaki's win at Cannes Film Festival for her film "Capharnaüm" as the first Lebanese and Arab female director to win at Cannes, others opted to question Labaki's achievement as nothing to be proud of or even celebrate.

Manar Sabbagh, a Lebanese journalist, has been facing public outcry over her tweet that followed Labaki’s win announcement.

In the tweet, Manar wrote:

Translation: “In the occasion of talking excessively about people who make Lebanon proud by winning an award, contest or challenge.. You, intellectuals, the sons of Phoenicia, those images for martyrs of the first day of the Battle of al-Qusayr 2013. Many of our saints and martyrs died before them and after them. I think Lebanon had enough glory for centuries [by their achivements].”

Her tweet provoked outrage splitting opinions, between people discouraging Lebanese to stop celebrating Labaki’s achievement because “martyrs” and fighters who are dying for Lebanon are more important than Labaki’s achievement and others arguing Manar for her unjust comparison.

Jad Ghosn, a Lebanese reporter, argued his colleague out of comparing “martyrs” with artists and directors who are adding Lebanon’s mark on the international films industry map.

Translation: “One of the biggest mistakes of such comparisons that each one of them excludes the other (mutually exclusive).. Life is not limited to politics in all its forms, and it is not limited to mental activities, arts and culture. Life is all of them. I don’t understand why we are comparing and what might be wrong if we honored both of them [martyrs and Labaki].”

Nadine Haddad disagreed with Manar as well, saying:

Translation: “Everyone strive in his own field, it is not required from all people to whether die for the country or be an actor or a director. Civilization is a mixture of everything dear. We respect your faith and pray for martyrs who died fighting for what they believe in, so you should respect our way to live because highlighting such topic increases intolerance.”

Another tweet reads:

Translation: “Lebanon does not live by death.”

Some users attacked Manar for her pro-Hezbollah views:

Translation: "Day after day, every person who supports Hezbollah makes me certain that they are paving their way to an Islamic state where they will expel Christians or kill them. Is it true Manar? How can we live in peace in your presence while this is your goal?"

Abbas Hodroj responded to a tweet accused Manar of being racist. He said:

Translation: “Her tweet is not racist. Everyone has freedom to be with Nadine [Labaki] or oppose her, and nationalism has nothing to do with the Phoenician origins. We [Lebanese] are now far-out from a Phoenician great civilization.

Labaki’s film, that was also listed for the Palme d’Or, is about a 12-year-old boy, who is a victim of child abuse and neglect and was born without a certificate. The story revolves around him while he is suing his parents for bringing him to life.

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