A friend and colleague of mine went to the Concorde cinema in West Beirut to go see Defiance, the new film about Jewish partisans fighting the Nazi invaders in the woods of White Russia, by Edward Zwick recently known for Blood Diamond. When she arrived at the cinema, the film had been pulled. It’s playing at two cinemas in Beirut, so I gave them a call. The woman at the Concorde told me that it wasn’t playing, and when I asked her why, she said, “the government.” When I asked her what was wrong with the film, she said, “Jew stuff.” I asked if it would be played later, and she said that she didn’t think so.
Then I called the Grand ABC in East Beirut and was told that it was supposed to be shown this week but wouldn’t be played until next week. When I asked what the problem was, she told me that General Security had stopped them, and that she thought they’d be taking a few offensive scenes out, but she didn’t know what was in those scenes. Finally, I called the only other cinema in Lebanon showing the film, Las Salinas in Batroun, and they told me that the film was playing today at 4:15, 7:15 and 10:15.
While it’s possible that the woman I spoke to in Batroun had made a mistake, it’s equally possible that the censors just didn’t bother to check any cinemas outside of Beirut. Time will tell if the film will really be shown next week (in a censored form), or if that was just another example of Beirut’s oh-so-often repeated philosophy of “bokra, insh’allah.”