Senegal–Lebanese Ghassan Salhab makes movies, collaborates in various scenarios, and teaches cinema in Lebanon. He has directed seven feature films and now is attending the 37th edition of FIFF as a jury member of the First Film section. A short interview follows:
Have you ever been to any previous festival?
It’s my first time here. But in 1998, I had a film in Fajr Film Festival. It was my first feature named Phantom Beirut.
You have been a juror in other festivals? How is the experience here?
Today is my first day and I watched only 3 films. The atmosphere of the festival and quality of these films show that it is like other festivals. I mean it’s a real festival that works properly. Because it’s 37th edition and clearly it has experience and is famous. I knew this festival even before sending a film 21 years ago. Iran’s cinema is my favorite. It gets me involved. Not only because of filmmakers, but the quality of films. I mean you have a serious cinema and there is connection between the cinema and the audience.
Tell us about the movies you saw?
I watched 3 films and two were very interesting. As a jury member, I can’t name the films. Of course, when I checked the catalogue, I realized that most of the films are Asian and it’s normal. But I think because of the stupid sanctions by the US, Western film owners do not attend this festival. Also, I was a little surprised. Because there are not many films from Asian countries like Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan on the list. Still, I am very happy to be here. Because I’m a curious man. I like to see other parts of the world.
Any movie to direct for next year?
I hope I can come back here with a new film. I am finishing a film now and it’s in post-production. We might send it for the next edition.