News Column

Lebanese filmmakers Akl and Aris feted at festivals

July 16, 2014

Chirine Lahoud

BEIRUT: Writer-actor-directors Mounia Akl and Cyril Aris have struck gold on the international film festival circuit, with the longtime collaborators taking a pair of prizes from two different film festivals. Akl's short, "Christine," won the Cervantes Award for Best Creative Short at Rome's Medfilm Festival a few days ago. Set in a Lebanese convent, it tells the story of Sister Christine, who tries her best to prevent her disciple, Lilya, from leaving the nest.

Aris' film "Siham" is set at a family gathering organized to celebrate the impending birth of a young couple's first child, and depicts the couple's inner turmoil after their doctor informs them that their unborn child has Down syndrome.

This prize from the Palm Springs Festival follows on the heels of a jury special mention the short received at the Lebanese Film Festival a few months back.

Akl and Aris are known to many Lebanese through "Beirut, I Love You (I Love You Not)," the TV/web-series the duo launched in 2010, which went on to gain not inconsiderable success.

The team was later selected to co-write and direct "Fasateen," a series broadcast on Yahoo Maktoob. This series was easy for people to identify with, since it follows the lives of three Lebanese women one single, another divorced and the third married.

Akl and Aris have been feted for their work, winning the Best Foreign Film award at 12th annual Beverly Hills Film Festival. For the last two years, they have been living in New York, where they enrolled in Columbia University's Master in Fine Arts program, concentrating on directing and screenwriting.

Although they are no longer working together on "Beirut, I Love You," Akl and Aris have never stopped collaborating.

"Cyril directed his film in which I was the main actress and producer," Akl told The Daily Star, "and he was my assistant and producer [in my movie]."

Akl and Aris have no intention of resting on their laurels. They are now planning several other film projects.

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Source: Daily Star, The (Lebanon)

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