Snazzy Bazaar

My newest venture & adventure in life is Snazzy Bazaar.

It is a very exciting and crazy step for me but these crazy steps have been the highlights of life so far – Thanks to my family and friends around me who always seem to accept my craziness, for good or bad.

The first major crazy thing I did in my life was stand on the balcony of the fifth floor in Beirut in 1999 and scream out loud to celebrate getting accepted into the NYU Tisch School of Arts for an MFA in Dramatic Writing, when I was 19 years old.  At that time, given the then very serious person that I was, it was a truly crazy deed (the screaming from the balcony).

In 2005, I did the second major crazy thing when I decided to leave my family & friends behind and go to work for Al Jazeera in Qatar. That prompted the third major crazy thing, when…

In 2010, I decided to leave my job to pursue an independent filmmaking career in Beirut. This was the beginning of placeless films and many great memories that I will hopefully be making for a long time with my friend and superstar producer, Lara.

In 2015, I took another crazy decision when my friend Vidya and I decided to sell everything we have and pack our lives and move to Puerto Rico – a place neither of us had visited before.

Today, as I recall all these great thrills, I feel grateful and lucky to have parents, siblings and friends who are able to put up with my craziness. In a few years, I will be doing another major crazy thing (still have to find out what it is) and I will be telling more stories inshallah.

I Left Beirut

And so, I left Beirut (again), one day…

My experiment as a returnee failed miserably.  You need A LOT of self motivation and positivity to survive in a place like Post War Lebanon – unfortunately.

I have much better feelings towards Lebanon when I am away.

I love it more, I am more proud of it, I defend it when someone speaks ill of it,  I am able to read more about it and tolerate it, all these things are way easier to do when I am outside the country. Most Lebanese people with dual nationalities, or who don’t reside in Lebanon full time, have similar sentiments.

As I progress in editing my film and the theme of home keeps popping up, the concept and definition of “country” fades away.

We grow up repeating slogans such as “My Country is more precious than My Life”. But I feel that our countries are not more precious than our lives.  Countries are man made.

And then again, back to the initial thought, what defines our countries? Google Maps? The signs at the entrances and exits of our cities?  The place where our families live(d) or descended from?  I ask these questions about belonging to the country while most Lebanese people embrace and sacrifice their lives for belonging to more limited entities  – the village, the tribe, the sect, the religion, the party, the elite… the ZEFT.

And we’ve been conditioned to believe that life is worth one of these things -except for the Zeft; which comes free every election season or another –if elections do take place.

The first step into growing beyond our fanaticism and narrow mindedness is to strip naked from these attachments. They are a major obstacle that prevents us from moving forward with our revolution against corruption and political sectarianism.

تخيلوا بكرة بعد شي عشرة أو خمسة عشر سنة، يصير هيدا يللي “ذبح” الناس باسم الإسلام أو السياسة أو الايديولوجية تبعيته، تخيلوه يصير رئيس لبلد ديموقراطي ويروح ويجي بين مطارات العالم ويستقبلوه الرؤساء والزعماء بينما شعبه عم يتعفن ويموت من المرض والقهر والظلم

لأنو هيدا صنف الناس الموجودين حالياً بالحكم بلبنان اليوم

تحت مظلة قانون عفو “كبير” عن النفس نمت عندنا ثقافة “العفو” عن المجرم الصغير والمجرم الكبير واللص والقاتل والفاسد والخائن

ولحد ما يتحاسب المجرم الكبير ما لح يتربى ويعتبر اللبناني من الدروس اللي صارت. هذا إذا كان مدرك انو في شي “خطأ” صاير معنا بالزمانات

The importance of finding a screenwriting mentor…

My Blank Page

yoda-lukeEvery teacher had a teacher. Every mentor had a trusted advisor. It’s an ongoing process of learning and staying humble about the fact that what you don’t know can actually hurt you.  If you’re lucky enough to work on film productions you can make the necessary contacts with professionals and learn from their experience.  This is a vital element in your continual growth as a filmmaker and screenwriter.  Find a filmmaking mentor and apprentice under them or at least have access to them as they are working.  Study how they handle their business and ask questions about the craft. They’ve already survived many of the pitfalls that you have yet to experience and their knowledge will help you better travel on your journey to success.

I’ve been blessed in my career to have worked with Academy Award® winning producers, veteran directors, and Academy Award®, Emmy® and Golden Globe® nominated actors…

View original post 647 more words

This Too Shall Pass…

I have been working on “Twice Upon a Time”, a documentary film about my childhood during the Lebanese Civil War, for some years now. The film is finally about to come to a conclusion.

For the fact that you grew up during a war there is no changing. You will always have grown up during war. What can change is what you make of that experience.

On Friday, June 20, 2014, I got an opportunity to meet people who were making the best out of it!

I was invited to attend a lecture by Dr. Joseba Achotegui, Professor of Psychiatry at University of Barcelona, Spain, and author of “Ulysses Syndrome” and “Ulysses Scale for Refugees”. The invitation came from the Veteran, Immigrant & Refugee Trauma Institute of Sacramento (VIRTIS).

Between emails and in-person introductions, I managed to meet around 40 or 50 people that day at the lecture and the informal exchanges around it. That on its own is a fantastic achievement for someone like me, but it was not the highlight of the event for sure.

My favorite personal high note of the event was the fact that most of the people attending the lecture and all those esteemed professionals working and volunteering at VIRTIS today were war or trauma victims themselves.

At that time, this was a great unifying and defining trait about those in the room.

Today, when I come to think of it again, I find it all the more reassuring and uplifting.

These were people from all over the world who must have witnessed some war horrors or traumatic situations along the journey of their lives. Today, they are all doctors, engineers, professors, businessmen, or successful professionals working towards the improvement of other refugees and trauma victims’ lives.

When I wonder about their pasts, I see things I don’t want to know about. When I look at their present today, I feel that I want to raise them high and show them to all the sad refugees and war victims living in horrible conditions all over our planet.

Thirty years ago, in July of 1984, life was not beautiful at all for my family and hundreds of thousands of other families in Lebanon.

If somebody at that time had come and told us that we will be where we are today, we would’ve ignored them at the very least.

I wonder sometimes, when I feel so helpless towards all the refugees, specifically those living in Lebanon today, what can we do to tell them that even this, this too shall pass…

And will it?