UPDATED, 8:06 AM: Ziad Doueiri, the Franco-Lebanese filmmaker whose The Insult earned the Best Actor Volpi Cup for Kamel El Basha in Venice this weekend, has been released without charge by a military tribunal in Lebanon. This is after he was detained upon arrival at Beirut’s airport yesterday, saw his passports confiscated and was summoned abruptly to a hearing this morning.
The incidents appear related to Doueiri’s 2012 film The Attack, which he shot partly in Israel. Lebanese citizens are banned from visiting the country. The Insult has been selected as Lebanon’s Foreign Language Oscar entry, but Doueiri has been criticized by some local journalists and activists over The Attack.
Passport back in hand, Doueiri spoke with reporters outside the court today. “The people who are fighting me are trying to prevent the release of my new film,” he said, per AFP. “But I was questioned at length, and the court found that I had no criminal intent vis-à-vis the Palestinian Cause.”
Meanwhile, the National Union of Italian Film Critics condemned Doueiri’s earlier detention, calling it “an unacceptable act of intimidation. An intolerable abuse of power.”
The Insult begins screening in Lebanon this week.
PREVIOUS, 4:51AM: French-Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri, whose The Insult won the top acting prize at the Venice Film Festival over the weekend and is Lebanon’s entry for the Foreign Language Oscar this year, was detained upon arriving at Beirut airport on Sunday. The filmmaker told AFP that his French and Lebanese passports had been confiscated and that he was due to appear before a tribunal today.
Middle East daily The National reports the detention and court appearance stem from Doueiri’s visits to Israel where he shot part of his previous film, 2012’s The Attack. Lebanon is officially at war with Israel and bans its citizens from visiting the country.
The Attack premiered in Toronto in 2012 and is based on the best-selling book by Yasmina Khadra. It focuses on a Palestinian doctor who discovers uncomfortable truths about his wife following a suicide bombing. It was banned in Lebanon in 2013.
Doueiri told AFP on Sunday, “I am profoundly hurt. I came back to Lebanon with a prize from Venice. The Lebanese police have authorized the broadcast of (The Insult). I have no idea who is responsible for what has happened.”
The incident comes just days after Lebanon selected The Insult as its entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race. It is due to be released on September 14 locally.
We are pleased to officially announce that the Lebanese Ministry of Culture has officially submitted The Insult – قضية رقم ٢٣ to represent Lebanon in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 90th Academy Awards in 2018. @theacademy @theinsultmovie @lebaneseministryofculture Original photo taken by @rudy_bouchebel #TheInsult #Linsulte #قضية_رقم_٢٣ #LebaneseFilm #Oscars2018 #BestForeignLanguageFilm #ZiadDoueiri
On Saturday, The Insult’s star, Kamel El Basha, won Venice’s Best Actor Volpi Cup. It revolves around a minor argument that erupts between a Lebanese Christian and a Palestinian refugee, and eventually escalates into an intense legal battle that becomes a matter of public opinion. Cohen Media Group has domestic; Deadline has reached out for comment.
Doueiri’s acclaimed 1998 drama West Beirut was also Lebanon’s Oscar submission.