“I wish Ariel Sharon had wiped you all out,” said Tony Hanna to Yasser Salameh in the film The Insult. This one sentence triggered tensions deeply rooted in political conflicts over the presence of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. The Insult was showcased at the MBRSC theater last week, with the full version of the film and no censorship.
The Insult shows you why the characters are insulting each other constantly, and that’s not because they actually hate each other. There is a history of political conflict between their communities dating back to the 1975-1990 civil war in Lebanon. But when the characters learn the reasons behind those actions they start to realize that they are similar in some ways, and have both been victims of unfortunate events.
The Insult was the first Arab film to be nominated for an Academy Award for the best foreign language film in 2018. The film was directed by Ziad Doueiri, a Lebanese film director. Doueiri came up with the idea, when he was watering his plants and water fell on a construction worker, which caused them to exchange insults, just like in the film. After Doueiri solved the problem, it got him thinking about the incident’s political background and this also brought back many painful memories from his childhood. All this inspired him to make the movie.
Ziad Doueiri directed movies such as Life Says, West Beirut and The Attack. The Attack was banned in a number of countries because some of it was shot in Israel. Almost all of Doueiri’s films revolve around political issues related to the Middle East. The Insult was shown in some countries in the region, but not all. It was also censored in many places.
Adel Karam played the role of Tony Hanna a Lebanese garage owner, and Kamal El Basha played the role of Yasser Salameh, a Palestinian construction worker.
Ghazal Hatem, who is in charge of choosing the films for the Cinematopia at the MBRSC, chose The Insult to highlight that Arab films can be great in terms of lighting, cinematography and acting. “I wanted the full version to be shown, without censorship because that’s how it was filmed and that is the whole purpose of the film, if we removed some stuff it would be meaningless.”
Hala Haj Taleb, a journalism student at AUD, said that she really enjoyed watching the film. “This film helps you look at things from a different point of view, many people look at one side of the story but they never try to understand the other side and that’s what the movie is trying to show,” she said.