Text size

The Israeli movie Waltz with Bashir was shown in Lebanon on Saturday, although it is officially banned in this country.

The documentary, which won the Golden Globe award for best foreign film last week and is nominated for an Oscar in the same category, was screened in Ramallah and may soon be shown in the Arab gulf states as well, director Ari Folman told Haaretz on Tuesday.

It was shown at a private screening in a southern Beirut suburb, not far from Hezbollah headquarters, after a DVD copy was sent to the organizers.

The screening, which was attended by some 90 people although only 40 were invited, was organized by UNAM, an organization documenting Lebanon's history and war memory with written and audiovisual materials, the weekly entertainment trade newspaper Variety reports.

It was held in UNAM's cultural center, Variety said.

"They contacted the film's French producer at the Abu Dhai film festival and asked his permission for the screening, and we sent them a DVD of the movie," Folman said. The film is based on his memories from the first Lebanon war, when he served in Beirut and witnessed the massacre in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

"The movie may have no effect on the decision makers, but 90 people saw it in Lebanon and that's wonderful," he said.

Since the censorship board of Lebanon's Security Directorate bans public screenings of Israeli movies, UNAM officials called the screening "private."

"The subject of this film is a crucial moment in the history of Lebanon, for the history of Israel, for the history of the Palestinians, and for the history of Palestinian life in Lebanon," UMAM founder Monika Borgmann told Haaretz.

"At some point every state must deal with its violent past and the sooner it does so the better. That's why I think this movie should be shown," she said.

"Yesterday, my phone didn't stop ringing...everyone wants a copy of the film," she said. "I think it comes out on DVD in March. The next day, it's going to be pirated all over Lebanon."

Borgmann's husband and UNAM co-founder, Lukman Slim, said before the screening that he hoped the film would be publicly shown "for there is perhaps no people that this film directly affects more than the people of Lebanon."

"In principle I don't believe movies can change the world, but I'm a great believer in their ability to form small bridges," Folman said.