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This is Why Lebanon is Outraged With the New Beirut Summer Blockbuster

The trailer for the new summer blockbuster Beirut was released this week, leaving Lebanese people outraged.

The Brad Anderson-directed film (who directed the 2004 film The Machinist) lands in cinemas on April 13 (the day the Lebanese civil war began 43 years ago), and stars Jon Hamm and Rosamund Pike. It’s set during 1982, in the midst of the war. So why have so many people taken issue with the film?

Despite the title, the movie was not shot in Beirut, let alone Lebanon. Rather, the studio chose to shoot the film in Morocco. It also features no Lebanese actors. One user(@ctienne) commented on the movie’s Instagram feed that “no Lebanese actors would agree to be a part of this shameful inaccurate portrayal.” While it is common for a Hollywood film set in one country to be shot in another for financial and convenience reasons, there’s an obvious friction here that has sparked outrage about the misrepresentation of Lebanon’s heritage. Twitter and Instagram users did not hesitate to voice their concern.

beirut movie

A still from Beirut starring Jon Hamm and Rosamund Pike, out in cinemas in April 2018.

One Instagram user, @rouhana, wrote, “This is a shameful representation of Lebanon! Its not fair” (sic). @fredericsarkis chimed in, “… It’s filmed in Morocco and they’re making the world think that Lebanon looks like a desert with camels and people wearing deshdeshe.” Mohamed Hadid, father of Vogue Arabia cover stars Bella and Gigi Hadid and Vogue Man model Anwar Hadid, took to Vogue Arabia’s Instagram account to share his affirming opinion of Lebanon, “We were just in Beirut. It was magical. Beautiful, safe, loving, caring. Beautiful people and best food. I felt safer walking in the streets of Beirut than the streets of Paris. It was amazing. Love you Beirut. We will be back soon. @voguearabia.”

@Thisismyreview penned an open letter to Hollywood: “Dear Hollywood, when you name a movie “Beirut” and pretend it takes place in Lebanon’s capital, at least show the real picture even if the whole film was shot in Morocco and none of the cast is Lebanese. We got used to such “propaganda” and trying to convince the whole world that Lebanon is a terrorist country, but your stupidity surpassed our expectations.”

Other users felt that the movie is an inaccurate portrayal of the events of the civil war. @b_longstocking commented: “Many Lebanese people are already outraged by the “inaccuracies” they claim are in the trailer.”

On the movie’s official account on Instagram, @firassanioura posted, “Not only do you film a movie about Beirut without shooting any scene in the actual city, your plot line starts in the early 70s, a period when Beirut was thriving as the jewel of the Middle East, none of the locals speak English properly as opposed to the real Lebanese of the time and now and you launch the movie on the anniversary of our civil war! If you were trying to offend a country and its heritage you cannot outdo yourselves! And to top thing up your tagline talks about a 2000 year vendetta when the city is more than 3000 years old! Why didn’t you call it Delta Force 3…!”

Many are calling to boycott the film.

See some of the reactions from social media below:

Have your say! Take your opinion to our comment thread on Instagram @VogueArabia #beirutmovie

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