News ID: 2409
21 May 2024

Documentaries hold a higher status than fiction cinema in Lebanon

The first step in making a documentary is establishing effective communication

Documentaries hold a higher status than fiction cinema in Lebanon

In his professional workshop at the Sobh Festival, Radwan Mortada stated:

A capable documentary filmmaker is someone who has good access to subjects because communication is the primary principle in documenting.

According to the public relations report of the festival, the professional workshop “Narrative in Documenting the Crisis,” featuring Lebanese documentary filmmaker Radwan Mortada, was held on the third day of the Sobh International Media Festival.

At the beginning of this workshop, Radwan Mortada said, “I worked as a journalist for many years, primarily as a reporter. However, at a certain point, I realized that I was struggling to effectively communicate with people in this role.” That’s why I gave it up. I started making documentaries, and so far, I have made more than 42 of them. I am interested in making documentary films that explore challenging and exciting topics. So far, I have produced documentaries on various topics such as drugs and drug trafficking groups, the distinctions between Shiites and Sunnis, terrorists in the Middle East, and serial killers. These documentaries have been featured in festivals and have received awards.

In discussing the importance of narration in experimental documentation, he emphasized the need to immerse oneself in the research field. By observing and experiencing various aspects, one can capture the most compelling images for the audience, while meticulously examining the subjects. On the other hand, I always strive to distinguish between documentary filmmaking, journalism, and an intelligent security force. As a professional documentary filmmaker, I believe that I should not provide the information I obtain to the security apparatus.

The documentary filmmaker noted, “I even remember that one of the commanders of the terrorist groups asked me for an interview. At the same time, one of the security forces called me and asked to meet. I understood what his purpose was for this meeting and promptly canceled the interview with the commander. In Lebanon, it is important to note that the influence of journalists is significant, surpassing that of many professions and even government roles. I remember one day when the army attempted to arrest me, and since I was a media employee, I took the opportunity to hold a live broadcast and speak out. This made them stop arresting me.

In response to a question about the challenges of producing a documentary, Radwan Mortada said, “When you delve into sensitive issues, the production difficulties multiply.” I even remember receiving death threats several times. Making films about topics like the role of documentary cinema in Lebanon, he stated, “I believe that Lebanese journalists have made a name for themselves in the region, which is why documentary films hold a higher status than fictional cinema in Lebanon. Many Lebanese documentary filmmakers collaborate with renowned media outlets such as the BBC, CNN, and others, enjoying significant freedom in their work.

He also said, in response to another question about the criteria for documentaries, “In my opinion, first of all, you must have good access to the subjects to become a good documentarian. In fact, communication comes first in documentation. In other words, in media work, the first step involves establishing effective communication and building diverse communication networks. On the other hand, some subjects are more difficult to comprehend. For instance, it is relatively easy to create a film about a serene subject such as music or culture. However, producing a movie about a controversial topic like drugs is much more challenging.”

He emphasized, “I was able to distinguish myself by making these topics more difficult. It brings more income and credit to the documentary filmmaker. In addition, paying attention to international issues is more important and valid. On the other hand, I must mention the importance of the type of narration. The newer the perspective of the documentary, the greater the audience appeal. In addition, learning new languages can be very beneficial as it allows you to communicate with a wider range of people.

I remember when my documentary about drugs was broadcast, and I delved into the heart of the drug distribution groups. Representatives from various networks approached me to create a film for them on similar topics.

The 2nd Sobh International Media Festival, with Mohsen Yazdi as the festival director, will be held from May 19–21 in three sections: “Main,” “IRIB World Service,” and “Palestine Special.”

No Comments