Tripoli Film Festival

Reviving the cinema culture in Tripoli to encourage Tripolitans

11 closed historical cinemas in Tripoli

In 1957, a Lebanese Tripolitan film participated in Cannes Film Festival’s 11th edition. It was the first time a Lebanese movie reaches this international festival. The film, called “Ela Ayn?” – Arabic for “Where To?” – was screened in last year’s Cannes Film Festival edition as one of the 15 movies that make up CFF’s history, in its 70th anniversary. In Lebanon, there are 29 closed historical cinema theatre that seat around 1000 people, 11 of which are in Tripoli: 3 in Bab Al Tabbanah, 1 in Bab Al Ramel, and 7 in Mina region. But as the civil war took its toll on the country as a whole, the demand on cinema in specific and entertainment in general declined, leading to the closure of the 29 cinema theatres across Lebanon. The civil war ended in 1990, but in Tripoli it really didn’t; it just leaded to the major decline in the cinema culture. In terms of production, the glorious city never stopped witnessing the graduation of cinema people, excited to produce and direct honest and successful movies. Those people are the new Tripolitan blood, those who deserve the effort done to link them to the market and help them make their way through.

Leafs of Lemon Trees

Tripoli Film Festival came to life in 2013 with cinematic resistance as an aim, but soon got postponed to 2014 – due to the clashes that were taking place in the city back then – and specifically to spring because of the blossoms of oranges whose leaves are a symbol of the festival.

Together to encourage filmmakers and re-cultivate the culture of cinema

This festival enriches Tripoli and exports a different image of the city. The committee members started planning and executing from scratch, attracting an audience that is constantly increasing, and organizing events that happen all year round such as the “Cinema Stairs”, bring the cinema theatre to those who don’t visit it. These small but impactful events aim at replanting the cinema culture and encouraging the upcoming talents by creating local links for them between Tripoli and Beirut. Elias Khayyat, one of the founding members of Tripoli Film Festival, adds that Tripolitan talents are hungry to produce, film and direct brilliant works that portray their city in a fairer much more elegant way than the ugly image the media has portrayed during the clashes. Khallat notes that the number of documentaries about Tripoli rose significantly especially after all the incidents that were taking place, each documentary aiming at reflecting an honest image about the beautiful city, and about Lebanon, through which Lebanon lives and Tripoli lives.