“He who doesn’t like it may leave,” the Lebanese president Michel Aoun declared on TV about the Lebanese Revolution in 2019, illustrating the indifference of the ruling class and their attachment to power when the Lebanese population took the streets asking for political change.
This week is the second anniversary of the Lebanese Revolution, locally known as the Thawra, a striking date for the Lebanese population.
On that day of October 17th, 2019, the Lebanese people started one of the most important revolutions of Lebanon’s history, uniting across all sects and ideologies as one nation to demand a renewal of the political system.
The people deemed it inefficient and corrupt, and the cause of their sufferings.
“The revolution is born from the depth of sorrow,” a powerful song that became that of the people of the Lebanese Revolution, originally written by the acclaimed Syrian poet Nizar Kabbani, and famously chanted by Lebanese iconic singer Majida El-Roumi.
That’s how the documentary is titled – “La Révolution Naît des Entrailles du Chagrin” – and introduces the Lebanese uprising:
“The revolution is born from the depth of sorrow. The regime knew it and feared it. To protect itself, it got us used to amnesia, to resilience, to forget our deaths as well as our uprisings. But the 17th October 2019, the people wanted to write a page of their own history.”
Directed and produced by Arthur Sarradin, Sarah Claux, and Charbel Cherif, and co-written by Maxime Macé, this documentary reminds us why the Thawra left such an important mark in the mind of the Lebanese people.
“The documentary was 2 years of work and it follows people during one full year,” Arthur Sarradin, one of the directors, told The961.
“The memory of the event is what guided our work for this documentary. Our goal is to conserve the memory of the event in its extraordinary and independent aspects, as well as in its representation of a historical turn for the country.”
“For me, the revolution was a historical turn,” Sarradin stated.
“We saw people who went down on the street without distinction of religions and parties, looking for what unites them, what defines them as Lebanese. It allowed a process of auto-determination of the Lebanese people: the Lebanese identity.”
Since the onset of their Revolution, the Lebanese have come to realize that it is in their national identity as Lebanese first and foremost, and above their sects and political affiliations, that they can come to spare their country conflicts and schisms, hence sufferings.
In Lebanon, political parties and politicians have long infused fear, edging terror at times, in their sectarian communities against each other, causing and nurturing dividedness within the nation, for their own personal agenda of political power.
That has created political affiliations to foreign governments and their interests and had led to ravaging civil wars and painful human losses that could have been avoided, notably in 1958 and in 1975; the consequences of which the people and the country are still enduring to date.
The Lebanese Revolution triggered a massive awakening across the nation, shattering the sectarianism mindset among many, and uniting people around their own Lebanese identity and demands for a better Lebanon, which they believe deserving.
“I am happy that the documentary can anchor a bit this memory because the stake of the future is between two things: letting the revolution die or letting the revolution live. This is the two-issue that can happen after this social movement,” Sarradin told us.
“We always say that the revolution was more cultural than political because it’s true that politically-wise there was not too much change afterward,” Sarradin noted.
“But culturally, a lot of taboo was lifted and some parts of the society found more and more visibility, and it also democratizes ideas of laicism and anti-confessionalism.”
The Thawra has in fact given rise to strong secular movements, winning elections in vital associations and syndicates and in universities where the influence of political parties used to be predominant, and crippling.
“The idea of this documentary is to make those ideas survive, to make the people have a vision of the Thawra [that is] not biased and not recuperated by political forces. A documentary that can remind the people that the revolution really happened and that it can be reborn,” the director explained.
“Some people say that the revolution was controlled by [political] parties and with foreign support. The documentary is a way to show them that the Thawra really happened, really carried ideas, really carried people who thought about anti-confessionalism and about a new democracy for Lebanon.”
The documentary was presented at the French photojournalist festival “Visa Pour L’Image” and at the prestigious “Prix Bayeux”, which rewards the best journalistic work of war correspondents.