Film is debut of Lebanese director Labaki

BERLIN — Roissy Films is getting sweet for Cannes with “Caramel.”

Pic is the debut feature from Lebanese helmer Nadine Labaki, one of the region’s top musicvideo directors. It tells the story of five Lebanese women, of different religions and ages, who work in a beauty salon. (Title refers to caramel used to wax women’s legs.) Labaki plays one of the five women in the film.

“It’s about tolerance and the idea of people living in harmony. We think it’s a very good candidate for Cannes, but it’s not up to us. It’s up to the selection committee,” said Roissy CEO Raphael Berdugo.

Labaki attended the 2004 Cannes Residence with her script for the project. She is mixing the film in Paris.

Anne-Dominique Toussaint (“Respiro”) is producing the $1.5 million pic. Majority of coin was provided by Arab TV network ART and Lebanese distrib Sabbah Media, with Roissy kicking in completion funds.

Sabbah will handle Mideast territories, excluding Israel, with Roissy responsible for rest of the world. Pic already has been sold to Canada.

Labaki finished shooting on location in Lebanon just before the outbreak of war with Israel in July.

“It was a miracle that we finished the film on July 3, only days before the war,” Toussaint said.

Berdugo is keen for Israelis to see the film as well, even though Lebanon is still technically at war with its neighbor.

“When you create an enemy in your head, you start to create a picture that is very different from reality. In a sense I want the Israeli people to see the film and understand what kind of people we are,” Labaki said.

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