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Nadine Labaki On 'Where Do We Go Now?': "The film is not perfect. People are relating to what the film is saying."

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire May 9, 2012 at 10:45AM

Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki is back this Friday with "Where Do We Go Now?," her anticipated follow-up to her directorial debut, "Caramel,"a critical and international commercial success that brought on a wealth of buzz for the gorgeous newcomer.
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Sony Classics Takes Foreign Oscar Hopeful "Where Do We Go Now?"
Sony Classics Nadine Lababki's "Where Do We Go Now?"
How did you go about finding non-professional actors who were comfortable with that aspect of the film?

Sometimes it's more difficult to convince them. But when you do explain to them, I had this army around me that wanted this film to happen, because everyone believes that this is something that we need in our country. I'm not the only one feeling angry. I'm not the only one fed up. I'm not the only one who wants to live in peace, who wants to raise her kids in peace. I'm not th sonly one.

You took such a long break between your last film "Caramel" and this. Why the wait?

I think in the meantime of course I travelled with my first film for a year, and then I got pregnant. When I was pregnant I wrote. I think it was a natural time that I needed, maybe to be inspired by something new. Not only that, it was some really specific events in Lebanon that led me to this film. It was because of some conflicts in Lebanon that happened a few years ago that led people to take weapons again unfortunately; this after we had succeeded living in 20 years of peace since the civil war. We thought that everything was OK and then all of a sudden Beirut is a new war zone. It was all so absurd. These people who were fiends just yesterday -- how can you turn into enemies so quickly for political or religious reasons?

At that time I was pregnant with my first child. I guess it does change your perspective on things. You wonder, what kind of a world is this? How am I going raise this child in this world?

So you do have to wait sometimes for this need to express yourself. It becomes bigger than just talking about it. You want to just shout it out loud. If I shout it out loud in real life, nobody's going to listen to me. But if I shout it out loud in a film that's going to be seen by so many people, then the message is going to come across stronger.

"I can't do politics, so I'm doing politics in my own way."

I've seen so many women in my family, so many mothers, that have lost children in the war in such absurd ways. I wonder how they do it. How do they keep living? How do they keep smiling? How do they put on their clothes on in the morning and survive? I don't want to be (God forbid) in that situation. Nobody wants to be in that situation anymore. We just want to live a normal life.

I need to say we've had enough. I don't know if will change anything, but at least I know I tried. I'm sharing this responsibility. I can't do politics, so I'm doing politics in my own way.

"Caramel" was an art house hit, winning several awards and a slew of fans. You no doubt must have been offered some projects out in English after your debut. Why did you choose not to go down that route and become a director for hire?

It was very tempting. Like you said, I did have these offers. You think, am I crazy saying no? But it was never anything that I felt a connection with. Like I said, it has to come from some kind of need to express myself, otherwise it's not going to change anything. I could tell another story with a culture I have nothing to do with, I could pull it off. But it wouldn't be the same involvement. I think you owe it to yourself and you owe it to your status as an artist to be true to who you are. If I find this script that I really feel a connection with, of course I will do it. Why not? But I haven't really felt this. That's why I haven't gone on this adventure. It doesn't mean that I will not.

This article is related to: Interviews, Where Do We Go Now? (Et maintenant on va ou?), Nadine Labaki







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