Asaad Shaftari, one of the principal characters in Eliane Raheb’s film “Sleepless Nights,” stands in the UMAM exhibition “Missing.” (Photo courtesy of Eliane Raheb)
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Some immigrants to Lebanon – those with the spare cash, leisure time and inclination to absorb cultural production – sometimes note the eccentric centralization of the country's cultural activities.The main exceptions to this rule – summer music festivals targeting the holy grail of seasonal tourists as much as year-round residents – have tended to situate themselves in relatively out-of-the-way venues such as Baalbek, Beiteddine, Ehden and the like. Some smaller coastal centers also host summertime festivals, the largest being the Byblos International Festival in Jbeil, accompanied by smaller events in Jounieh and Zouk Mosbeh. Meanwhile, Lebanon's major urban centers outside Beirut – Tripoli in the north and Sidon in the south – appear bereft of cultural institutions other than a few commercial cinemas and the offices of French and German cultural agencies. Khlat's principle partner in staging this event is Etienne Louys, director of Tripoli's Institut Francais.Four Lebanese films are on the program, seven if you count Lebanese content. Appropriately, some of the works – including Khlat's doc – take up issues related to Tripoli.
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