Filmmaker’s Tribute to Her Lebanese City During Pandemic is Going Viral (video)

@frshehadeh | @omarimady

In a tribute to the northern capital of Lebanon, over 50 people from various parts of Tripoli use their eyes to smile for the lens of award-winning director Fatma Racha Shehadeh, and it’s beautiful.

The video gained over 100K views in just a matter of days.

Born in Los Angeles, California to both a Palestinian and a Lebanese, Fatma became attracted to the filming world from birth without even knowing it.

Growing up in Tripoli, she was not a stranger to the spotlight. She joined Tripoli’s Fayha Choir with whom she traveled the world performing to large audiences in international festivals and concerts.

Years later, she enrolled in a filming program at the Lebanese American University (LAU) in Jbeil (Byblos) and afterward pursued her Master’s Degree at the Lebanese University in Furn El-Chebbak.

She has shot over 20 short films as a cinematographer and has won multiple international awards.

Inspired by the Pandemic

During the lockdown, she couldn’t keep herself from going out. She spent her time walking around the quiet city, greeting her friends on their balconies.

She noticed that there was a general feeling of negativity in the atmosphere. Inspired by what she saw during her city walks, she wrote a small text that would later become the voice-over narration in her video.

She knew she had to do something during this unusual time off and itched to bring out her camera.

Thus, she began her homemade video with a very basic camera and a simple tripod, in contrast to the huge productions she usually works on.

With help from her friend Rania Habbouchi, Fatma was able to create a concept to fit the voice over.

“Even though everything’s closed and we have to wear a face mask because of the pandemic, we can still spread positivity by just smiling,” she told The961.

In the video, Fatma was able to capture people’s smiles even while they wore face masks. “Even if someone’s smile doesn’t show behind the face mask it shows in their eyes,” she said, “and in their eyes, you can see kindness.”

The kindness, she expressed, should be shared. In the video, the narrator points out that in the eyes of each one of its children is the kindness she is referring to.

Fatma Racha Shehadeh with Rania Habbouchi during filming.

“Rania was a big help in choosing people to feature in the video,” said Fatma, “Since she’s an art director, she also made sure every frame was perfect and authentically showcased Tripoli in a positive light.”

Rania was available throughout the entire shooting of the video. During the editing phase, she was also supportive by giving her opinion to help finalize the project and bring the concept to life.

Watch the video created by Fatma Racha Shehadeh and Rania Habbouchi and narrated by Tamim Abdo.

Get the latest news and updates about the outbreak in Lebanon along with a live monitor of cases in Lebanon as well as resources and information to help you guide the outbreak on our dedicated coronavirus page.