Tu te souviens, quand on a essayé de te faire croire que Ziad Rahbani était grillé au Liban, qu’il s’était fait virer par des manifestations « spontanées » contre sa présence à l’AUB (avril 2013)… bon ben c’est pas vrai : Lebanese film ‘What About Tomorrow ?’ Crushes box office records In Lebanon
A new Lebanese film, What About Tomorrow?, which is made up of grainy footage of a 38-year-old play by legendary singer-writer Ziad Rahbani, is crushing box office records in the country. The film opened on Thursday January 21 and has already garnered 28,000 admissions in its first day. To put that into context, that’s more than Star Wars: The Force Awakens did in its entire opening weekend. The film is now anticipated to become the highest grossing Lebanese film of all time. A lot of tickets sold were part of a new phenomenon in Lebanon where people buy out whole screens and invite their friends and family for a private showing on the day of release. 12,000 tickets were sold in pre-sales alone, an un-heard of number for a film in the country.
What makes this all the more remarkable is the film is not really a film at all, or even new for that matter. It is a collage of old 8mm footage of performances of Rahbani’s play, also called What About Tomorrow?, that first opened in Beirut in 1978, three years into Lebanon’s 15-year civil war. The footage was originally filmed by Rahbani’s sister Layal at his request so that he could show it to the actors during rehearsals and change stage elements such as the lighting and costumes. There are scenes in the film version where the same character appears in different clothes for no apparent reason. “The audience don’t care,” says Hyam Saliby, the head of sales and acquisitions at distributor Italia Film. “Even though the quality of the image is not great, the audience are just in love with Ziad and this experience. The amazing thing is this footage was never even meant to be shown. It was only intended for personal use.”
Ziad Rahbani’s iconic play in Beirut cinemas
The audience interacted with the film, as if they were watching the play firsthand, clapping the moment the actors went on stage, and singing along with late Lebanese singer Joseph Saker as he sang Aa Hadeer Al-Bosta, Esmaa Ya Reda and Aisha Wahda Balak.
The audience members comprised members of Lebanon’s older generation who had attended the play’s premiere on 27 February 1978, which garnered huge commercial success, and hence wanted to reclaim the memories of Beirut in this production, which continued to be performed in Al-Hamra Street for eight months. Also attending were Lebanese youth who grew up listening to recordings of Rahbani’s works.
Pas mal de choses sur Youtube en cherchant « Bel nesbe la boukra shou »…