Kamel El Basha
Kamel El Basha looked understandably proud as he held the Coppa Volpi (Volpi Cup) aloft at the 74th edition of the Venice Film Festival. The Palestinian actor cinched the Best Actor Award during the world’s oldest film festival for playing Yasser, a Palestinian refugee in “The Insult.” It was a career-defining moment for the stage veteran, who described it as his first major movie role.
Director Ziad Doueiri with the cast
One of the two male co-leads in “The Insult,” El Basha mentioned his fellow countrymen during his acceptance speech. “I’m proud to represent my country and my people,” El Basha said. “This award is not for only me, but for the film, the director, and the whole crew.” And it’s definitely a fulfilling moment for the elite cast of Lebanese actors and visionary director Ziad Doueiri. In the resonant courtroom drama, Tony, a Lebanese Christian (played by Adel Karam), and Palestinian foreman and refugee, Yasser, find themselves in court after an insult is blown out of proportion. As many emotions and ordeals come to the surface, they become engulfed in a media circus that rocks Lebanon, forcing both men to reconsider their lives and bigotries.
“The Insult” also stars Camille Salame, Diamant Abou Abboud and Rita Hayek, who was aptly supporting Lebanese designers Elie Saab and Georges Chakra at the festival. The film, which shows across Lebanon from September 14, is anticipated as Lebanon’s entry for the 2018 Oscars. It will reportedly be submitted in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
Diamand Abou Abboud, Rita Hayek (in Elie Saab) and Christine Choueiri
Jurors at the 11-day event, which welcomed stars like George Clooney, Jennifer Lawrence and Matt Damon, honoured Charlotte Rampling with the Volpi Cup for Best Actress for her part in Andrea Pallaoro’s “Hannah.” The Silver Lion for Best Director privilege went to Frenchman Xavier Legrand for his first feature, “Custody,” while the Grand Jury Prize went to Samuel Maoz for “Foxtrot.” However, it was Guillermo del Toro who took home the biggest award given out at the canal-crossed Italian city’s Lido Island. The jury, headed by Annette Bening, awarded his extravagant romantic fantasy, “The Shape of Water,” the Golden Lion. The press strongly agreed with the jurors’ choice of film, which has been critically adored.