Exclusive Interview With Bassam Eid, Circuit Empire’s General Manager:
A. IMAX is a very beautiful technology, with better sound and vision, but unfortunately in Lebanon there isn’t any plan until now that could fit its requirements, you need a screen that is at least 29 m . Even the current cinemas don’t have IMAX, and the upcoming theaters either in Solidere or in Bekaa or in Nabatieh won’t have IMAX, we are trying doing a special location which will be very nice surprise to everyone.
Q. Will it be in Cinemacity?
Q. In Lebanon?
A. Yes in Lebanon.
Q. Does IMAX require glass wear?
A. NO, the screen is panoramic; it’s thrilling and very beautiful.
Q.The surprise you mentioned when will it arrives to Lebanon?
A. We are currently working on it, but it needs time.
Q.Which movies are usually in IMAX?
A. Block Buster-Action Movies, Musical & Douc
Q.When will the cinemas in Beirut Souks open?
A. Mainly October/November or even maybe September depending on Solidaire.
Q.Will it offer anything new or it’s a regular cinema?
A. It will have 14 screens, the best image and sound in the world also the best seating in the world. It will be the best technology you ever see in your life in the whole world.
Q. What do you have planned out for the new cinema lounge in Cinemacity?
A. There will be a VIP lounge with a VIP theater with special seats, and new screens.
Q. Can anyone enter the VIP lounge and theater?
A.Yes if he agrees to pay the right admission price.
It can be used for private screening.
Q.What are the future plans of Circuit Empire?
A. We will have a new Cineplex in the bekaa Valley, we are opening 10 screens in Bar Elias, it will be the most important one in Bekaa and even in Lebanon. They will be opening hopefully by the end of the year.
Q.Lots of people are annoyed by wearing glasses to a 3D show, what do you tell them? And can they purchase their own glasses.
A. Anyone can purchase their own glasses from any theater. And for the ones who are annoyed from 3D glasses can watch the movie in a 2D show in selected theaters they can check our site, they are right even I am annoyed from the 3D glasses.
Q. How is the current competition with other movie exhibitors?
A. It’s an open market. There is no competition, the movie speaks for himself. A beautiful movie will be hit wherever it’s playing. All of us (the exhibitors) are one big family
A. That’s a big question! Actually I am supposed to watch every movie. Prometheus is one of them.
Q. What do you think of the movie industry in Lebanon, now that Cash Flow is in theaters and we have Tannoura Maxi as well as Taxi el Ballad coming to the big screen?
A. There is also Outloud, but unfortunately it doesn’t have a place, the rights-holder of the movie think that it will be a blast like Quo Vadis and it will reach 500000 admissions but we think that it should play in one theater, and that’s the whole thing about Outloud.
Q. And the movie industry in Lebanon?
A. The movie industry is booming after the triumph of Where do we go now?
There is many minor titles ready to show. Many ones are under development.
Q.You’ve had a successful printed magazine which was the movie guide, is there any plan for its revival?
A. It will be back most definitely. We are currently working on it.
Q. What do you think of the Lebanese censorship system regarding Lebanese movies, and foreign ones?
A. The censorship is becoming more and more open minded and permissive
Q. What would you like to say to our readers?
A. Keep Movie Going as Block-Busters are scheduled on Our Screens
Interviewed by Emile Eid.
Exclusive Interview With Taylor Kitsch:
“When I first read the script, I was drawn to the character-driven story and the fact that it will benefit from being a big studio movie. It gave the filmmakers a chance to make the film in an amazing way. You get to know John Carter’s background with his family, the Civil War and everything. It’s heavy to play but it gives me such a base to draw from through the whole movie. For example, in one scene, you’ll see Carter playing with his rings and you’ll know what that truly means to him. It’s great as an actor because it’s something to really dive into. It’s great.”
2. What kind of character is John Carter?
“Carter is a man who has lost everything he ever cared about. He comes back from the Civil War to find his wife and child dead. He basically goes into this recluse mode of living and is driven to mine for gold. It’s like a Band-Aid solution—he’s covering up what he hasn’t dealt with, the guilt and the loss of his family, whom he went to war to protect. He has a fear of taking responsibility again and that’s what he’s fighting through the whole movie. He lands in the Civil War between Helium and Zodanga. He’s on Mars but their conflict is incredibly relatable for him, so he just wants nothing to do with it. You have Dejah, Tars and everyone reminding him or literally telling him that there’s a cause here and you have to be part of it whether you like it or not. He’s made that choice before and everything was just ripped from him, so obviously there’s that fear of actually engaging in that again. So that’s what he’s always pushing away from.”
3. This movie covers such an incredible epic span from the Civil War era to Western America to Mars. How was the epic adventure sense of it for you as an actor?
“The grandeur and what Stanton’s done and how it works and how it’s all intertwined is quite epic and I felt that as an actor. My character is definitely on an epic adventure. We go from the 1800s on the streets of New York to the Arizona Territory in the West, to the plains of Mars—all in one movie. As an actor I experienced my character John Carter in many different settings that had specific emotions and needs that I had to evoke. I can’t recall any movie that’s done it the way we have. The ending brings the adventure full circle brilliantly, but you’ll have to see it to understand what I mean.”
4. What do you think audiences are going to love about this movie?
“There’s a lot. I keep saying that the great white ape scene is worth the price of admission alone. Visually it’s going to be incredible. I think they’ll like the characters; they’re going to be able to relate. It’s not just a special effects movie with things blowing up and basically one guy that you don’t care about. You care about John Carter and you care about his journey. You see an incredible arc of who he is, his new beginning and rebirth, and although you have special effects, you’ve also got the brilliant actors whom I’ve had the fortune of working opposite as well.”
5. Please talk about your character’s relationship with Lynn Collins’ character, Dejah Thoris.
“In the books it’s almost love at first sight and John would do anything for Dejah, but in the film you follow an arc that happens with John and Dejah as their relationship develops. I love the banter back and forth. We rib each other and we challenge each other through different scenes and finally the truth just comes out. It’s a love story with everything else going on but it means so much to the film. It’s quite the backbone of it. Our characters’ relationship at first is about pushing each other’s buttons to see how we’ll each react. That changes as we grow and she stops trying to test him and begins to see the real John, the part he can’t even see himself. But through the relationship, Dejah and John have so much going on that those moments become very special and, in a sense, earned. It would be unreal just to play that relationship as it is in the moment. You have to understand that the stakes are always so high, so you have to create these small moments that are earned and not just like, “Oh, you’re pretty today.” You definitely have to work and earn those moments, which make them that much more special in the film.”
6. Did you enjoy working with Lynn Collins?
” Working with Lynn is fiery, which I love. Lynn has a great balance of fire and beauty and has done an amazing job with her character Dejah. She’s just a ton of fun. In every scene I play with her the stakes are quite high because she’s on such a driven path. Just to be in those scenes with her has been great. We work really well with one another. Trust is everything and as an actor and as a good friend I trust her immensely. It’s been great to work with her.”
7. How did director Andrew Stanton convey his vision to you?
” Andrew Stanton’s vision was very infectious. He’s just brilliant and you just have to go along with it. You have to believe in it because it’s such an incredible vision that if you don’t, you’re not doing the story and the character justice. Our first meeting was great. I was so excited because I am a huge fan of “Wall-E” and, come to find out, he’s a fan of “Friday Night Lights.” It’s just been a great relationship from the get-go and trust has been there from day one. It was great to be able to have him explain his vision and then to become part of it.”
8. Where did the story of “John Carter” come from?
” It comes from Edgar Rice Burroughs, who created the character of John Carter. 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the creation of the character. Burroughs wrote a whole series of books based on him. I think Edgar Rice Burroughs was way ahead of his time, especially for his first science- fiction novel. It relates to what we’re living and doing right now—the lack of natural resources, the energy problems, the wars going on from racism to religion. He was hitting it all almost 100 years ago. And even in the film we address all those things. What Stanton has done is taken the base of John Carter from Burroughs and definitely gone into more depth of who John Carter really is and where he comes from. Stanton has given me so much more to dive into with the character that wasn’t realized in the books. It’s been really great, script wise, to draw from that. “
9. How does John Carter wind up on Mars?
” It’s actually quite brilliant. Edgar Rice Burroughs didn’t really address it in the book, in which he just wakes up on Mars. Andrew Stanton’s John Carter goes into a cave on Earth where he tries to escape the Apaches. The cave has become a Thern way station where Therns transport back and forth from Mars. Carter gets accidentally transported to Mars when he comes into possession of a medallion.
10. What makes the character of John Carter so appealing?
” What’s made him so interesting for me to play, and why I feel grounded in John, is the sense that he’s real. And I think that will appeal to audiences, too. Carter’s sense of loss, his regaining his humanity and his honor and finding love again are all appealing human themes that play out in this character on the screen.”
11. Does John Carter have powers on Mars?
” I don’t like to call them powers because then he’s going into a superhero realm, which this is not. His enhanced strength and ability to jump are based on the different gravity of Mars. He learns that there’s a lack of gravity on Mars and he has to adjust to it. At first he doesn’t realize his enhanced strength, but when he does, he starts to figure out how to use that to his benefit.”
12. Despite the serious underlying themes of the movie, it’s got a lot of wit and levity to it, too. Correct?
” Absolutely. It’s something that Stanton’s worked on from the beginning, with the script and in the filming. John Carter has a lot of funny things happen to him and engages in some witty conversation with Dejah, Tars and even Woola, his canine-like protector. Even his gestures become moments of levity, such as the shrug of his shoulders in the White Ape scene. It’s very situational comedy.”
13. Can you address the lengths to which the production and Andrew Stanton have gone to in order to get the right locations?
“We were on location in Utah even though we could have easily done those whole sequences around green screen. Every location, whether it was in Utah or in London, was researched and chosen very carefully. In doing so, Andrew’s made an incredible effort to keep it real. It’s always been performance before technicality. The focus is on getting the performance and being on location helps with that enormously.
14. When did you know you wanted to be an actor and how did you get into it?
” There were things that kind of spoke to me while I was growing up, such as performances that changed my point of view. I love telling a story. I love bringing people into a performance. I love the kind of escapism that it brings. I enjoy working with brilliant actors. I’ve had the pleasure to do so and hopefully it will continue. There’s no better art form that I’ve ever come across where you learn more about yourself. I always want to keep growing and becoming a better actor and everything that goes with that as well.
15. Do you enjoy seeing this type of science-fiction adventure in theaters?
“I love going to a good film in theaters just as much as the next guy. It’s all about escapism and enjoying the arc and the wild ride and wondering where the next scene is going to lead and what’s going to happen. Just being a part of it and creating it makes it that much more special to me. I love movies that take you right into the conflict. And I think we’ll take you right into Mars and hopefully you feel it when I’m in the cave and when Dejah is fighting and when we’re surrounded by Tharks. And when we’re in the gladiator arena, I hope you’re right there with us.
16. Did you have fun doing any of the physical scenes?
“I love doing the fight scenes. The Great White Ape scene was probably something I’ll never forget. The energy in that arena was really great. I knew early on from the screen test that this scene was going to be epic. The stakes are incredibly high and I love that.”
Sami Koujan interview:
1. How did you start working on Cash Flow?
“I started writing the script when I was in the university, it took me 3 months to finish the script and I kept on polishing it until it became perfect and I proposed it to a production company and they loved it very much, and I put a condition that I would be the director for the movie, they saw my previous work and they accepted my offer.”
“There is always a difficulty in the funding, but the production house made a study for how much it would cost and there was no scrimping, based on their study we had our funding and everything worked out.”
3. What were your actors casting based on?
“For sure I have to pick famous actors and not new faces, so that the people would watch the movie, also for being a commercial one. And every actor and actress perfectly fit to their roles, everyone will be surprised how did these actors came together, their whole lives they never saw each other, but in the movie everyone had a role almost shaped for him.”
4.What can you tell us more about the story of the movie?
“The story is at the same simple but complicated, if I tell what’s the theme of the story you’ll think it’s very easy but when you watch the movie you’ll that find many elements will enter and ruin the story then it will be back to normal. Mainly the story is about a young man, employed with a small salary, who’s in love with his co-worker which is very rich. He is in debt and he is in a very bad place and he keeps on spending and in one night his life will be turned upside down with a big mix.”
“The main difficulties are that the country is not eligible for making a movie, you cannot close the roads, what I mean is that you can’t have your freedom while filming, while filming the weather was also bad it was raining almost all the time.”
6. Where did you film the movie?
We shot in the harshest location in Lebanon, we didn’t film in a remote area with no people, we filmed in Gemayzeh, Beirut, Hamra, Batroun, Broumanna, we filmed in public location where people live and work so that the movie would seem realistic. And we wanted the people to remember that I visited that place in the movie, there was no imaginary location or old villages”
7. How much time did you take to finalize the movie?
“There was forty days of shooting; pre-production, before filming took four month to prepare and post-production was finished in eight months.”
“Definitely, first in the Middle East and Arab countries, then Europe and United States & Canada.”
“I hope so, the movie was made so it would succeed in the box office, it wasn’t made for festivals.”
10. What do you think about Lebanese Movies?
” It’s getting stronger and stronger and this is something beautiful for everyone, I hope it remains like this.”
“Sure, I am currently preparing for a new movie and I will be directing; and I have worked on a Brazilian/Lebanese movie as an executive producer which will hit the Lebanese theaters in April and it’s called The Last Stop it was entirely shot in Brazil with 10 minutes of footage from Lebanon it’s a nice movie. And also there are many projects on the way.”
“I would tell them to watch the movie and I hope they like it, I won’t force them to but I hope they do”
13. Who is your favorite Actor, Director and what is your favorite Movie?
My favorite actor is Carlos Azar, not because he appeared in my movie but because he is really strong, my favorite director is Guy Richie from Snatch & Sherlock Holmes, and I love Avatar.”
By Emile Eid
Nadine Njeim Interview:
“I started my acting career suddenly; I didn’t have it in mind. I was offered a role that I loved in a series and that’s how I started. I found myself there and many people loved my performance and I was encouraged, so I continued and I arrived to where I am right now.”
” I was offered the role, I read the script and I liked it so that’s how I got involved.”
3. What can you tell us about Cash Flow and your role in the movie?
“Cash flow is a light comedy with some action and romance, it’s very good movie, with good emotions and nice entertainment when you leave the theater you will be happy and laughing which is the most important part. My role in the movie is the lover of Carlos and I work with him in a company and in the movie I accompany Carlos in every step along his way.”
“In many locations, studios, companies, houses, mainly the shots where I appeared were mostly filmed in Achrafieh.”
5. What were the main difficulties you faced while filming?
“It was a very easy role I didn’t face any difficulty, it was very funny, we enjoyed our time since the movie doesn’t involve anything stressing unlike Sorry Mom, even that we had to wake up very early during the cold and the rain.”
6. How was your collaboration with the director Sami & the cast?
“It was a very beautiful opportunity we had lots fun, I think Sami has a bright future in directing, here in Lebanon we are in need of new directors with new styles, new ideas, new creations , that will encourage the movie industry.”
7. Do you think the movie will have a strong impact here in Lebanon & will it succeed in the box office like other movies that come from Hollywood?
“Absolutely, 100% sure Cash Flow will be a hit comparing other Lebanese films and I think it will be number 1 in the box office.”
“In the meantime I am preparing a movie in Egypt and I am the lead role, with a cast that from both Egypt and Syria, it’s a beautiful movie entitled “Room Number Six” it is directed by Muhammad Fakhri, it’s an action movie and the message that comes from the it is that not everything is shinny and it’s not all about the appearances, a person that seems like an angel could have the darkest secrets and do lots of bad things.”
9. What do you think about the movie industry in Lebanon?
” Right now the movie industry in Lebanon is very important, it is receiving lots of awards like Nadine Labaki & Bahij Hojeij, Cash Flow is on its way, even Sorry Mom was number one for two weeks in the box office, I think the movies in Lebanon are becoming really beautiful and I give it 5 years and it will be a success.”
10. Who are your favorite actors and actresses and movies?
“My favorite movies are The Proposal, Pretty Woman, The Holiday; I love Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Charlize Theron, Meryl Streep and Angelina Jolie. I love old actors such as Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and Robert DiNero”
By Emile Eid
Exclusive Interview with Nadine Labaki about her latest movie Where Do We Go Now ?