Despite last month's war in Lebanon, the organisers of the seventh Beirut InternationalFilm Festival have confirmed that their event will be going ahead from Oct 4-11.A range of international titles have already been invited including Mark Dornford-May's Son OfMan, Jafar Panahi's Offside, Cannes hit Paris Je T'Aime,and Pedro Almodovar's Volver.
The competition will be forfilms from the Middle East, with the emphasis on Arabic-speaking cinema.
"Let's shoot films notmissiles in the Middle East," said Colette Naufal,director of the festival since 1997. "I would like you all to come to Beirut to show your solidarity with us." She toldinternational journalists that their presence would signal that "normal lifecould be around the corner."
Naufal said that organising a film festival less than twomonths after the war in Lebanon was a formidable challenge. "I could not go out andinvite anybody until the war was over."
She added that she hasdeliberately kept the programme small in order to keep logistical problems to aminimum in a city where security remains tight.
Members of the internationalfilm community have signed a statement of solidarity with the BeirutInternational Film Festival. The festival has received backing from the MakeFilmsNotWar peace campaign, organised by the Lee and Gund Foundation.
The Venice Festival offeredits full support to its Beirutcounterpart at a special press conference on the Lido. Venice Festival director Marco Muller and the Mayor of Venice Massimo Caciarri were in attendance alongside representatives ofthe Beirut event.
It remains to be seen whichfilmmakers will turn up in Beirut. Nanni Moretti has already turneddown his invitation. However, various filmmakers, artists, and human rightsactivists are expected to attend. "Now we will just need to see who iscourageous enough to come," said Naufal.