After 5 years as a journalist in Beirut, Dubai and Kuwait, Farah Al-Hashim is now shooting the film Breakfast in Beirut. Your Middle East caught up with her in New York, where she resides, to hear about the project.
YME: What is the idea or the story behind your movie?
Farah Al-Hashim: The idea of Breakfast in Beirut evolves around finding the true identity. I believe that we can belong to a place despite what nationality we are, or citizenship we hold. I know some Kuwaitis who prefer to live outside their country of origin because they don’t feel home in Kuwait, while some Palestinians and Egyptians love Kuwait more than anything in the world.
This film sheds light on a story of a group of students with full pockets of memories, where a Kuwaiti student, her Jordanian and Lebanese friends flashbacking their day-to-day memory in Beirut during their college years, hoping to find an answer to their unanswered question which will be revealed later.
Breakfast in Beirut is a series of unforgettable memories from an inspired life story about a young woman who lost her soul mate. She was attached to him. He brought a certain magic to her life with his smile. Even though Beirut in 2005 – 2009’s political crisis was a never ending crisis, but this young woman found Beirut to be the land of dreams, the safest place on earth with her eternal love to him.
YME: What are the challenges facing you as a Kuwaiti female director?
FH: I am a Kuwaiti Lebanese filmmaker where I should play the role of a diplomat to overcome the daily challenges in this world. The weird thing about a society, especially in the Gulf region, is that the majority never tend to look at your personality and productivity but at your family name and house location. After all, I believe that overcoming any challenge relies on the person who you are.
As for a female part, I’m quite strong and confident and I let people see who I am and capable of doing rather than being just a female. We tend to make everything look professional, we strive to get a perfect career, and struggle to make extra effort to leave an impression, work harder than men to prove we are in the right business and nothing can make us fall back.
One of the challenges I face as a Kuwaiti female director is that fact that I’m a Kuwaiti female director and that sounds a bit weird to some of the Kuwaitis. It is astonishing that during the 90s and early 2000 I recall Kuwaiti as the coolest place in the Gulf and every art form in Kuwait was booming from theatre festivals to cinema, TV and shows in Ramadan and theatre plays in Eid.
In general, I hope we can open our eyes more in Kuwait to the real world and boot the cinema industry in to utilize Kuwaiti talents.
YME: How did your parents inspire you?
FH: My mother and my friends inspired me to do this film and work on it and I believe it is therapeutic to write about things that matter to someone. It is healthy to be honest with the audience and transparent about the idea you are sharing with people.