- Title: Beirut film festival kicks off with thriller 'Girl on the Train'
- Date: 6th October 2016
- Summary: VARIOUS OF ATTENDEES INSIDE THE THEATRE STANDING FOR THE LEBANESE ANTHEM
- Embargoed: 21st October 2016 12:24
- Keywords: Beirut International Film Festival BIFF The Girl on the Train Emily Blunt Tate Taylor Lebanon Middle East
- Location: BEIRUT, LEBANON / UNKNOWN FILM LOCATIONS
- City: BEIRUT, LEBANON / UNKNOWN FILM LOCATIONS
- Country: Lebanon
- Reuters ID: LVA00452V6YQD
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Film lovers and critics gathered at the VOX Cinemas in the Lebanese capital on Wednesday (October 5) for the opening the 16th Beirut International Film Festival (BIFF).
This year, the prestigious festival is divided into three main categories: Panorama - dedicated to international films that are newly released; The Middle East, which is sub-divided into documentaries and short films which will compete for prizes; and a category called the Rejection Front.
''This year we have 76 films participating, including international films, films from the Middle East for the competition, after that we have a category called rejection front, which has public square, culinary and environmental sub-divisions,'' said Colette Naufal, director of the Beirut International Film festival.
Also new to the festival this year is a category called Lebanon Before War, which consists of short films on the country's pre-war era using archive footage collected by the Lebanese Tourism Ministry and remastered for screening ahead of films throughout the festival.
This category aims to bring back hope towards a greater Lebanon, by remembering the good age of the country, said the organisers.
Films from the Middle East category will be competing for various awards, including three awards for documentaries and four awards for short films, as well as the audience's choice award of best feature film.
"Everything that allows 'art' to reach the people is important, Beirut Festival is very important, because it's one of the first festivals that were created after the war and in it there is International films, a lot of documentary films as well this year. The jury is only for the documentaries and the short films. So there is clearly an encouragement for the young people who are making films and for everything that concerns the area," said Carlos Chahine, president of the BIFF jury.
Lebanon's Minister of Culture, Rony Araiji, attended the event and emphasised the importance for the films to reach out to the youth audience.
"The future is for the youth, therefore every festival or art event that doesn't take into consideration about how to speak or get the message through to the young generation is lacking in its message, therefore we encourage all these initiatives towards the youth," Araiji told reporters.
However not all films were welcomed at the festival. Two films were banned by the Lebanese censorship for media - one that includes a scene opposing a certain Lebanese political party, and another one that had received Israeli funding.
Emile Chahine, an acclaimed Lebanese film critic, did not agree with the decision to ban the films.
"In a festival, I don't think there should be campaigns against the screening of certain films, because it is an opportunity for professionals to explore. There is no commercial benefit so that people can say 'we are blocking their income'. We are seeing what these films are saying. If they are bad films, then we can be aware of that," said Chahine.
The opening film of the festival was 'The Girl on the Train', a thriller based on the best-selling book, directed by Tate Taylor and starring Emily Blunt.
The Beirut International Film Festival runs from until October 13.
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