Lebanon has always prided itself on being a cultural centre in the region, and the many films shot here over the years are a testament to that. From Germany to Italy to France to Denmark, filmmakers from all over the world have chosen Lebanon to be the backdrop for their art. Here are 12 movies that were shot in Lebanon, listed in chronological order.
1. Liebe, Luft und lauter Lügen – 1959
A (West) German comedy centered around the misadventures of a secretly married and now divorcing pilot and flight attendant. It is a film that seems completely of its time, so it makes sense that their love plane would end up finding itself in the Paris of the Middle East along the way.
2. 24 Hours to Kill – 1965
A British/German film shot in Beirut during the so-called 60s Golden era. The plot of the film focuses on a flight that is forced to land in Beirut on its way to Athens due to technical difficulties. There, one of the flight attendants is worried because he believes him to be the target of a local militia. If you asked a random AI generator to write a plot for a film set in Beirut, they would probably come up with this.
3. Agent 505: Death Trap in Beirut – 1966
The title of this German-French-Italian film pretty much says it all. It is about a troubled hero who is on a mission to save Beirut from the “Sheikh,” a dangerous criminal who is planning to bomb the city with radioactive mercury.
4. Il marchio di Kriminal – 1968
This French film focuses on an international search for some missing world-renowned paintings, taking the protagonists from Rome to Genoa to Beirut, Baalbek, Byblos, and Madrid.
5. Super Bitch – 1973
An Italian-British film known in Italy as Can anyone be more of a bastard than Inspector Cliff?, in the US as Mafia Junction and in the UK as Blue Movie Blackmail. It is about an undercover cop trying to infiltrate a global drug cartel and includes on location shooting in Beirut and Baalbek.
6. The Message – 1976
This Lebanese-Libyan-Kuwaiti-Moroccan-British film focuses on the life of the Prophet Muhammad from the perspective of his uncle Hamza ibn Abdul-Muttalib and his adopted son Zayd ibn Harithah. It is considered an Islamic epic and was majority financed by then Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi and featured an international cast.
7. Die bleierne Zeit – 1981
Also known as The German Sisters and Marianne and Juliane. It is a (West) German tale of two sisters, one a journalist, the other a terrorist. Both believe in fighting for women’s rights, but in different ways. When the terrorist sister, Marianne, is jailed, Juliane feels an obligation to help her, and both their lives are changed forever.
8. 500 Years Later – 2005
A British-American-African film focusing on the impact of slavery, poverty, crime, and racism on the African diaspora. It won five international film festival awards, and features an unfortunate (voice-only) cameo from Bill Cosby.
9. Uno de los dos no puede estar equivocado – 2008
Translated as The Devil Returns To Earth, it is a Spanish film that focuses on the devil’s search for a TV director that goes by the name of Almudena, a long lost love of the returning satan.
10. Carlos – 2010
Technically a mini-series not a movie but you can’t stop me from including it. A French-German biographical that focuses on Venezuelan terrorist Ramírez Sánchez. It was shot across three continents, including a stop in Beirut. And technically it was played at the Cannes Film Festival as a 5.5 hour movie so you can’t sue me.
11. Circumstance – 2011
This French-Iranian-American film tells the story of a wealthy teenager and her orphan best friend who experiment with underground parties, drugs, and sex in Tehran, while her brother becomes more and more obsessed with her friend.
12. Minder fra Palæstina – 2018
A short film by Nikolaj Kristensen about Mohammed Khatib, a corpulent, charismatic and uncompromising man. Having lived and worked as a doctor in the Shatila camp in Beirut for many years, he has now dedicated his life to collecting historic artifacts, and documenting Palestinian cultural heritage.