Inspired by reality and social issues, Lebanese writer and producer Nibal Arakji’s goal is to realistically reflect life and its everyday problems in her movies – problems that people avoid talking about and prefer to ignore rather than discuss them out in the open, like child abuse, prostitution and drugs. Arakji’s great success, following her first feature film after OssitSawani/Blind Intersections, encouraged her to create a new movie about Lebanese women and “reflects, with humor, the way society views single ladies. If you’re single and you’re tired of hearing stories about your married friends’ kids… then you’re not alone… and this is just one example.
Yalla 3a2belkoun (Single, Married, Divorced), a new, sarcastic comedy, which will be in cinemas starting January 15 across Lebanon, is a Lebanese social comedy written and produced by Arakji and directed by Elie Khalifeh.
The movie brings together an elite group of actors, namely Darine Hamze, Nada Abou Farhat, Arakji herself, Marwa Khalil, Julia Kassar, Badih Abou Chacra, Mario Bassil, Egyptian actor Ayman Qaysouni, Yara Abi Haidar and Charbel Ziade.
Over an hour and forty minutes, the film tells the story of four successful ladies approaching their forties. They are smart, funny, interesting, yet the four of them are still single. The four friends are looking for love and independence and, as most Lebanese women; they are caught between tradition and modernity.
Arakji film shows, through its four women characters, how hard it is nowadays to have a proper relationship, based on respect, principles and values.
In the film, Arakji plays the role of Layan, a well-known fashion designer who is in love with a married guy. She believes he will leave his wife for her. Relations in the movie focus on being “in love, feeling happy, betrayed, or even cheated on. It is a situation that every single person has been through. This is why this movie will touch each and every person in the audience and everyone will identify with it,” she adds.
Arakji adds, “all the characters will be related to in one way or another. Why hide behind our finger, when this is what is happening out in society… This is an authentic movie that resembles everyday people in our society. If anyone disagrees with this reality, then they must be living on another planet or something,” says Arakji.
As a single woman in her late thirties, Arakji, expresses what she and her friends endure on a daily basis, just being single woman, “people just assume there must be something wrong with you if you’re single, or maybe you’re not into men but prefer women, or that you’re no good… and not to mention emotional pressure you get from your immediate family…”, she adds.
“There’s a scene in the movie where Yasmina, played by Darine Hamze, a make-up artist who is over 35 years old, still single and looking for a love marriage, was asked by her aunt, if she was a lesbian… And that actually happened to me,” says Arakji. “I assure you, it’s not easy being single in Lebanon. The movie is so natural, to the extent that the swear words that are used are heard on the street right now… I want to relay a reality, understand it in a funny way… but it doesn’t mean the whole situation is a joke.”
Arakji was born in 1975 and lived 25 years in Paris where she got her degree in Communications at “la Sorbonne” University. She wrote her first scenario at the age of 20, which resulting in French channel “Canal Plus” to produce a TV movie. However, Arakji turned down the offer. She then pursued her Master’s in advertising at “Ecole Superieure de Creatif en Publicite” in Lilles in 1997. In 2006 and after working for eight years in the media and advertising fields, she wrote and published a book called “Les hommes sont des salauds…Et les femmes ne valent pas mieux”, which turned out to be the bestselling book in Lebanon. Her first movie “Blind Intersections” (Ossit Sawani) reflects the cruel reality that people run away from.
There’s so much we can tell you about the story, but it’s best you go discover the girls yourself… Hopefully with this new and forceful movie, Arakji has a promising future ahead of her.