Review: ‘12 Angry Lebanese: The Documentary’

Docu should continue its fest travel while picking up select broadcast sales.

“12 Angry Lebanese” charts director Zeina Daccache’s launch of Lebanon’s first prison theater project. A lone woman among drug dealers, rapists and murderers, she formidably applies a sharp tongue lash whenever her charges’ focus wanders, but primary interest is in the prisoners themselves, who are duly transformed by their experience. Docu should continue its fest travel while picking up select broadcast sales.

Forty-five convicts are selected from hundreds of applicants at notorious, crowded Roumieh Prison, which was built for far fewer prisoners than the 5,500 it holds. We don’t see much of those who work on autobiographical monologues, dance sequences, music or other sidebars to the eventual evening’s entertainment, as the pic concentrates on its centerpiece: an Arabic translation of “12 Angry Men,” whose jury-room debates over innocence, social justice and the law strike a personal chord for all. This yearlong project culminates in a premiere that’s a major media and state event. But most affecting are the interview segments in which the men recall and repent of past misdeeds, poignantly hoping not to fall back into incarceration’s “oblivion world” once this inspiring creative collaboration ends. Assembly is aptly unslick.

12 Angry Lebanese: The Documentary



A Catharsis Lebanese Center for Drama Therapy production. (International sales: Catharsis-LCDT, Beirut.) Produced, directed by Zeina Daccache.


Camera (color, mini-DV-to-DigiBeta), Jocelyne Abi Gebrayel; editor, Michele Tyan; music, Inmates of Roumieh Prison. Reviewed at Palm Springs Film Festival (True Stories), Jan. 14, 2011. (Also in Dubai, Vancouver film festivals.) Running time: 78 MIN.


Zeina Daccache, Youssef, Mazloum, Atef, Josef, Ghassan, Hussein, Nidal, Rateb.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety