I began the journey of this film in 2016 thinking I was returning to make a film about the resurgence, redevelopment and renaissance of Lebanon following 15 years of Civil War. However, after my first film shoot in late 2017 and witnessing the growing disillusionment, frustration, degradation, and poverty among the people of Lebanon, I realised that the story I thought I was going to be making was so far from the truth that I had to reevaluate my entire mission.
I had regularly returned to my ancestral homeland since I released my debut film, Lebanon…Imprisoned Splendour, in 1996 which addressed the misperception of Lebanon, as portrayed by the western media, as a land of terror, car bombings and kidnappings because of the civil war from 1975-1990. But over the next 20 years, instead of seeing strides in growth and development, hope and opportunity, I experienced anger, desperation, and hopelessness among the people who were being forced to endure a system that couldn’t even provide reliable basic services and infrastructure – no roads, no clean water, no electricity, no garbage collection, no jobs, no justice…
“…I realised that the story I thought I was going to be making was so far from the truth that I had to reevaluate my entire mission...”
As I investigated the cause of the suffering and hardship I discovered that the corrupt political system was supporting an archaic kleptocracy that served only big business and the traditional warlords whose stranglehold on the instruments of politics and power were choking the country and its people – my people.
This compelled me to leave the life I had built and my family, time and again over the next five years, to make this film and search for answers to explain how we ended up in such a state of catastrophe, and to lift the veil on the endemic culture of corruption that allowed for the calamity of errors and omissions that enabled the perfect setting, for the perfect storm that resulted in the perfect blast on August 4, 2020.
My goal in making this film was to give voice to the people and a platform for their grievances, suffering, and loss, no more pronounced than ever with the oppressive economic crisis and the compounding impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. My personal storytelling style, allowed me to bring the audience into my world and take them on an intimate and heartbreaking journey so they could experience the emotional trauma that the Lebanese were and are enduring.
“My goal in making this film was to give voice to the people and a platform for their grievances, suffering, and loss, no more pronounced than ever...”
By the end, I had completed over 200 interviews including those with whistle-blower, Alain Bifani, who was Director-General of the Ministry of Finance from 2000-2020, and Civil Activist, Dr Carmen Geha Professor of Public Administration at the American University of Beirut and academic and author, Thanassis Cambanis, we blow the lid on the under-the-table, pie-sharing deals that have permitted many of the current political leaders, their families, and cronies to remain in power for decades.
Through our investigative journalism, we are able to join the dots and understand why and how the fabric of corruption persists and is permitted, despite all of the opposition, awareness, and rejection from world leaders, global institutions as well as the citizens.
I address the failings of the confessional political system, once universally hailed as the model of co-existence by other nations and Pope John Paull II, and reveal it to be a weak and impractical structure that continues to provide the ideal environment and vulnerabilities that sanctioned the current octopus-like oligarchy to be created, and whose sting has resulted in countless assassinations, untold, unanswered destruction, and a once sophisticated people and society to be on the brink of becoming one of the most impoverished societies and a failed state.
I explore who and how we can stop these oligarchs but also reveal grave concerns as to whether they can actually be stopped because they just don’t care. THEY are in complete control and have gained absolute power.
POWER CORRUPTS AND ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY!
But I discovered one spring of hope lying dormant – the sleeping giant that is the Lebanese diaspora who total around 16 million people spread across five continents…but the uncertainty remains if this powerful force will awaken in time to save Lebanon from falling to the lions and relegate it to the growing scrapheap of failed and forgotten nation states.
“One should never write off the Lebanese”, former UK Ambassador to Lebanon, Tom Fletcher reminds us… “for they are the only race to have been forced to overcome the odds more times than any other people in history, and against the fiercest and most feared opponents.”
But the difference this time is that the enemy is the Lebanese themselves.
The last question to remain is:
Are the good and just Lebanese ENOUGH to end LEBANON’s DARKEST HOUR?