Though the film industry in Lebanon is under-funded and widely unsupported, Lebanese creativity manages to find a way to churn out solid visual stories year after year.

Decades ago, the Rahbani brothers, Maroun Baghdadi, and others led the way in cinema and theater, offering up productions ranging from festive musicals to poignant love stories.

Since then, Lebanese films have focused on issues that plague our society, namely war. Though the quality of these films sometimes falls short of big budget Hollywood productions, there are a handful of Lebanese movies that are exceptional.

Here are six must-see Lebanese movies made after 1990.

West Beirut (1998)

West Beirut tells the highly relatable tale of two teenagers dealing with the breakout of the Lebanese civil war. Director Ziad Doueiri highlights the hardships of living in a city divided and partitioned into East and West Beirut. It is a beautiful coming of age story that is equal parts hilarious and tragic.

Caramel (2007)

Director Nadine Labaki’s first feature film, Caramel relays the stories of five Lebanese women living in Beirut; touching upon ideas of feminism, ageism, adultery, virginity, and love. The movie received critical acclaim and was highly profitable worldwide.

Hala2 Lawein (Where Do We Go Now?) (2011)

Labaki’s widely popular movie tells the story of an unnamed Lebanese village inhabited by both Christians and Muslims. When civil strife threatens the village’s unity, the women devise a plan to save their small community, a plot that brings to light the theme of feminism in the Arab world. The movie is both heart-wrenching at times and hilarious at others.

Lamma 7ikyet Maryam (When Maryam Spoke Out) (2001)

This movie tells the painful story of a young Lebanese couple, Ziad and Maryam, who have tried everything to conceive a baby but have constantly failed. Growing pressure from their families and community strains their relationship and leads to tragedy.

Waves ‘98 (2015)

Winner of the Palme D’Or in the short film category at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Lebanese director Ely Dagher’s film is visually and metaphorically beautiful. Dagher’s animated feature Waves ‘98 explores the filmmaker’s troubled relationship with his homeland and his struggle to come to terms with living physically in Brussels, but mentally in Beirut. The film is a reflection of this very dichotomy.

The Kite (2003)

This poignant movie tells the story of 16-year old Lamia who lives in a village in southern Lebanon. Lamia is in love with an Israeli soldier stationed at the border, but has been promised to her cousin. This consequently takes us on a journey of love across borders and arranged marriages. The Kite is touching and daring, controversial and humane.

[Images via here, here, here, here, here, and here.]

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