Here's the repost of the interview I did with Nadine Labaki in September at the Toronto Film Festival. The film opens in the US today.
Women and Hollywood: Congratulations. I read your film is going to represent Lebanon in the Oscars. How does that feel?
Nadine Labaki: It feels great. I don’t know what will happen afterwards, but it’s already great. (FYI - The film did not get an Oscar nomination)
WaH: I noticed it’s a strong roster of female directed movies being submitted this year to the Academy.
NL: It’s amazing. This point of view is new and important and I think it’s a different way of seeing things.
WaH: Do you think women directors tell different kinds of stories because of their life experience?
NL: I think so. It’s a different point of view on the world and it’s different issues and it’s important. It’s healthy to have both, and more and more women are becoming of aware of that. And when you are aware of how strong of an impact it has on people -- it changes things.
WaH: Are there other female directors in Lebanon?
NL: There are a lot of female directors in Lebanon but we can’t really talk about a true film industry, it’s still very small. But we do have a few female directors.
WaH: And do you all help each other?
NL: No, we don’t really know each other.
WaH: How did you get the idea for this film?
NL: It was something really personal because of the fact I live in Lebanon and Lebanon is always on the verge of a new conflict. There is always something happening. We never tend to keep peace for a long time. Anything can be a reason to start a conflict again.
It was also inspired by the May 2008 events in Lebanon where people took to the streets with weapons again. I think we were inspired and frustrated by the absurdity of the situation. We decided to tell a story of a village where women were going to do everything they can to stop the men from engaging in a new war. I think facing the absurdity of the situation you cannot help but talk about it. During this period I was also pregnant and I think my motherly instinct led me to want to write this story and be aware of my responsibility as a woman and a mother living in this society and wanting to change things.
WaH: What lessons did you use from your first filmmaking experience for making this film?
NL: I think because there is no film industry, I think the first film you do with your instincts because you haven’t learned with another director or you haven’t worked on other films, so you tend to do things your own way. I think what I learned the most was to take your time, to try to be less rushed into things and have some distance with what you’re doing. But again, it’s not easy to make films in general over there. We don’t have a lot of experience and we don’t have a lot of experienced crew, so you do things the way you feel are the right way. It’s only when your film is selected in film festivals and when it meets a big audience that you know that you are doing the right thing. There are no real references.