DIFF Daily 2010

Interview: Georges Hachem, director ‘Stray Bullet’

Dec 15,2010 - 12:18 PM

Georges Hachem studied theatre in Lebanon and film at the Louis Lumiere National School in Paris and is known for theatre productions including ‘L’une et l’autre en Octobre’. Following last year’s short film ‘Evening Mass’, he presents his debut feature, ‘Stray Bullet’ (‘Rsassa Taycheh’), at DIFF 2010. The film follows Noha (Nadine Labaki), a 30-something woman balancing her planned marriage and the attentions of an old flame against the backdrop of the war in 1976.

You’re known for your theatre work. Was this feature a big challenge?
I’ve always believed that telling stories in an audiovisual way, the primary link to the audience is the actor, so my double study [in theatre and film] helped me. Acting for plays or cinema was a field of personal research – for years I put on workshops for actors or for directors on working with actors for movies. But the big challenge for a Lebanese moviemaker is to decide when, how and why to make his first feature. Every 10 years in Lebanon we have the impression of cinema starting again – the challenge is to enter into this illusion. So while waiting, I decided to mature, to gain experience little by little. The result confirmed my intuition and rebuilt my faith in the possibility that this was the good time.

Was this a story you’d been working on for a long time?
I was a young witness of the war in Lebanon and saw how that transforms society, human beings and habits. It’s like an earthquake for a child – children are more impressionable than adults. It’s very disturbing when your country is becoming anarchic, like a horror movie – families can resist it or not. All the stories I tell deal with transitions, moments when things change definitively.

How did you cast Nadine Labaki, now well known as a director herself?
I met Nadine eight years ago. She was in one of my acting workshops as a novice. I immediately felt that she had something special specific to acting in movies – an intensive presence, an interiority. We made a deal that if I made a movie, she had to be in it. It was great how she crossed over, not letting her glamour or popularity limit her.

Do you think you’ll concentrate more on film or theatre in the future?
I don’t know. Following a movie and its life in theatres is really absorbing – I don’t think I can consider any other projects for the next seven months. It’s important that ‘Stray Bullet’ is released in Beirut and I’d like it to go to other places.

‘Stray Bullet’ screens tonight at 19:15 at the First Group Theatre in Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

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