Randa Chahhal, the celebrated Lebanese filmmaker who passed away last Wednesday at the age of 55 after a long battle with cancer, once said, “You discover in my films a common denominator. You notice that the camera only moves from right to left… exactly like Arabic writing.”
Chahhal herself moved to the left, so to speak. The daughter of an Iraqi mother who was one of the first female Arab communists, and influenced during her training in France in the midst of the social upheavals there in the 1970s, her films tackled the themes of strife, revolution, subjugation and oppression in the Arab world.
Though her films were controversial – the Lebanese government blocked her 1991 movie “A Civilized People” for its “obscenity” – Chahhal’s works were well received by critics. Her 2003 film “The Kite” received the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, and she was also knighted by the National Order of the Cedars.
Chahhal’s films included: