Christian Ghammachi, born and raised in Lebanon, is a self-taught photographer and filmmaker. Discovering his love for photography at the age of 18 while studying Law at USJ-Huvelin, Ghammachi would spend all his pocket money on film rolls and photography books.
Just recently, three of the Lebanese living in Dubai’s short films were selected for the TRAVEL FILM International Film Festival in Moscow 2020.
The films selected were Adventures of Aya – Iceland, uploaded in July 2019, Return to Kenya, uploaded in October 2017, and Hailing from Saudi, uploaded in January 2020.
Adventures of Aya – Iceland is a short film reflecting Iceland through the eyes of Ghammachi’s daughter, Aya. Using motion and movement videography, Aya takes us on an incredible journey through Iceland’s valleys, waterfalls, mountains, and crystal blue sea.
In the film, Ghammachi asks his daughter what she wants to do when she grows up, to which she replies: “Caring for the sea.”
“Because some people, they litter and throw things into the sea and it hurts animals,” Aya explains, taking us on a cruise over the Atlantic.
Return to Kenya steers us on an adventure with friends in the heart of East Africa; encountering wildlife, sunbathing in the Indian Ocean, and enjoying dinners overlooking the sunset of Kenya, all while being introduced to Kenyan culture and people with an African soundtrack.
Ghammachi tells us that Return to Kenya is one of his favorite projects. “I was on a continent, a country that feels like home, a place where I am in total peace, and I was with people who meant the world to me. Maybe this is why the film feels both organic and emotional,” he explains, much to our relatable delight.
Ghammachi’s third nominated film is his latest work, created for Saudi Arabia, and titled Hailing from Saudi Arabia.
“Saudi Arabia is going through an incredible change and opening up tourism,” Ghammachi explains. “In the past months, I have filmed there a few times and was struck by the incredible beauty of some places.”
“This specific film was shot in and around the City of Hail,” Christian says. “I really enjoyed the creative process and freedom. The film has a few symbolic moments, be it in the content or the music, and I was both happy and surprised that my ideas were not only accepted by welcomed!”
The Lebanese director is the genius behind the Rise Above Lebanon series with over 3 million cumulated views between the Ministry of tourism’s social media account and Ghammachi’s Youtube account Two Wheels Across.
The six months-shot series shows the beauty of Lebanon from above, from the North to the South, highlighting Lebanon’s nightlife, nature, sea, and heritage.
In 2018, Ghammachi decided to tell the second half of the Rise Above Lebanon story, by diving deeper into what Lebanon has to offer. He spent the summer exploring it on a motorbike, in a Lebanese version of Two Wheels Across.
He released the first two episodes and more are coming soon. He also published his third book titled Two wheels across Lebanon, (available in book shops), which serves as a photography book and a guide.
“I practiced law for 18 years until I decided to take a sabbatical in 2013 to focus on Photography,” Christian Ghammachi revealed. “I was living in Cape Town, South Africa, and figured out a good way to combine my passions for photography, traveling, Africa, and motorbikes.”
His love for photography as a way of expression led to the creation of Two Wheels Across Africa, the journey Ghammachi undertook in 2014, embarking on a 6 months solo motorbike crossing of Africa, from Cape Town to Dubai, on a quest for images.
Through six months, the Lebanese filmmaker covered 16 countries and 20,000 km. This project, according to Christian, led him to discover his ancillary passion for film making as well as the advantages of using drones in order to capture content from a different angle.
Christian Ghammachi established his production company in Dubai, called TWA (Two Wheels Across), and decided it would mainly cater to travel and aerial content.
He explains: “My company also provides aerial filming to other productions and Directors, such as Capharnaum by Nadine Labaki, the Insult by Ziad Doueiry, and 1982 by Oualid Mouaness.”
Christian published his first book 19 Years Later in 2010, which compiles a collection of his work. The book won the Dubai International Prints achievement award in 2011.
The Lebanese-International filmmaker speaks fondly of Lebanon and the Lebanese artists. “I have had the honor of working with Lebanese producers, directors, editors, colorists, and music composers. We have incredibly talented people in the industry, and the magic is there.”
Here are his three short films that just made it to the International Film Festival: Adventure of Aya – Iceland: