EU ambassador inaugurates European Film Festival in Lebanon


Ambassador of the European Union to Lebanon Sandra De Waele on Monday opened the 28th edition of the European Film Festival in Lebanon at the Sursock Museum.

Below is the speech delivered by De Waele at the ceremony as received by Naharnet:

“I am delighted to be standing here today, to open my first European Film Festival as EU Ambassador to Lebanon. This may be a first for me, but it is most definitely not a first for the festival: tonight we are opening the 28th edition of a festival that over the years has become a landmark in Lebanon’s cultural agenda.

The first European Film Festival in Lebanon took place thirty years ago, in 1993... Three decades of European Film Festivals… That is quite something…. It is very telling of the strong cultural ties between us.

I visited Lebanon for the first time some ten years ago, and like many Europeans, quickly felt a connection to your country. Maybe it is because of the mix of languages that we hear on the streets. Maybe it’s the cultural diversity that reminds us of Europe. Maybe it’s the variety of Lebanon’s landscapes, or the familiar scents and flavours that we come across in the countries around the Mediterranean Sea. But without any doubt, it is also - maybe even most importantly - the fact that in Lebanon, you feel free. Free to speak your mind, free to simply be yourself. 

And that is what the European Film Festival is all about. Over the years, the Festival grew into a platform to promote creativity and defend freedom of expression. It has become a welcoming space for us to come together and exchange on issues that matter to both Lebanese and Europeans. 

Ceci est reflété chaque année dans la sélection variée de films proposés par nos Etats Membres. Le programme de cette édition comprend 27 long-métrages récents des différents pays de l’Union européenne, y-inclus le film qui a remporté le plus grand nombre de Césars en 2023.

Il y en a pour tous les goûts: des classiques restaurés pour les nostalgiques parmi nous, des dessins animés pour les enfants (ou pour tous les jeunes d’esprit), un ciné-concert pour les amateurs de musique, et bien plus encore.  

Like Europe, Lebanon has a rich and diverse cultural heritage that takes many forms – and cinema is only one of them. In recent years, despite the challenges brought by the crisis, many Lebanese movies have made it to international festivals. And this is something to be proud of. To honour Lebanese cinema, the European Film Festival will close on October 4th, with the premiere of Riverbed, by Lebanese director Bassem Breish. We will also continue the tradition of screening short films produced by young, emerging Lebanese filmmakers and we will be awarding prizes to the best among them.

I would like to thank all our partners for their contribution to this 28th edition: Metropolis Association for putting together a rich and diverse programme in Beirut, Hermel, Saida, Tripoli, Jounieh, Byblos and Zahlé; our Member States for their invaluable contribution through films, awards and workshops; and the Sursock Museum for hosting us in such a magical setting tonight.

Le festival n’aurait pas connu un tel succès – et une telle expansion - au cours des années sans le soutien des milliers d’amateurs de cinéma qui ont assisté aux séances depuis 1993. Merci à vous, de nous avoir accompagné dans cette aventure. 

Without further ado, I leave the floor to my colleague, Ambassador Jesús Santos Aguado, who will tell us more about Ramona, the film presented by Spain that will be opening the 28th edition of the European Film Festival.

I hope you will enjoy the festival”