About the Film
Depending on how you look at it, the controversy surrounding director Ziad Doueiri’s recent arrest in Beirut either distracts from the strengths of his latest film, The Insult, or reinforces why he deserves his reputation as one of Lebanon’s bravest filmmakers. Already acclaimed in Venice, Telluride and Toronto, this caustic drama dares to lay bare the divisions within Lebanese society, hurling blame on all sides for allowing hypersensitive self-pride and a carefully nurtured hatred of “the other” to overwhelm reason. The Insult is a boldly told story that seeks to understand all sides in the tense stand-off between Christians and Muslims, left and right, which remains so explosive.
Garage owner Tony (Adel Karam) already has a chip on his shoulder about Palestinians in Lebanon, so he’s less than welcoming when building foreman Yasser (Kamel El Basha, winner of the best actor award in Venice this year) tells him he needs to change an illegal drainpipe on his balcony. Yasser changes the tube anyway, but Tony smashes it to pieces. In a reluctant expression of reconciliation, Yasser tries to make peace, but Tony’s nasty anti-Palestinian comments, accompanied by inflammatory recordings of Bachir Gemayel, make Yasser lose his cool and he throws a punch. From there things escalate further as Doueiri moves the story into the courtroom, where the two sides stubbornly refuse to cede ground, leading to a very believable nation-wide stand-off.