DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Lebanese actress-turned-director Nadine Labaki (“Caramel”) will star as an anguished school teacher in prepubescent love-in-wartime romancer “1982,” the feature film debut of director Oualid Mouaness.
“1982” is set amid the 1982 Siege of Beirut.
Mouaness, who grew up in Lebanon and Liberia, is a Sundance Screenwriting Lab alumn who has directed several shorts including “The Rifle, the Jackal, the Wolf and the Boy,” which was shortlisted for a 2017 Academy Award. He has also produced music videos for artists including Katie Perry, Justin Timberlake and Lana Del Rey.
Set in a school tucked safely in the mountains of Lebanon, “1982” is the tale of an 11-year-old boy named Wissam who is trying to drum up the courage to tell his classmate Joanna that he loves her. Before he can do so an air Israeli strike hits Beirut and shatters the school’s calm.
Labaki, who is among the Arab world’s biggest box office draws — both as a star and as a director —, will play Yasmine, Wissam’s teacher and “the witness of his innocent love and determination,” according to the pic’s promotional materials. She is contending with her own share of problems that the war has brought on her family and on her relationship with fellow teacher Malek who will be played by Lebanese actor Rodrigue Sleiman (“Halal Love (and Sex),” (“The Traveller”).
Principal photography is currently underway on the pic (an exclusive image of which appears above) which is a Lebanese-U.S.-French-Qatari co-production led by Abbout Productions and Tricycle Logic, which is Mouannes’ own production company.
The other partners are Alix Madigan and Christopher Tricarico’s Mad Dog Films and France’s Echo Films, headed by Michel Zana, and also the Doha Film Institute, the Sundance Institute, and other entities.
Speaking at the Dubai Film Market, Abbout Productions’ Myriam Sassine said that other projects in their pipeline, in earlier stages, include “All This Victory,” the debut of visual artist and filmmaker Ahmad Ghossein, which is set during the 2006 war in Lebanon between Lebanese military group Hezbollah and Israel; and “The Notebooks,” by visual artists and filmmaking duo Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige (“The Lebanese Rocket Society”). France’s Haut et Court have boarded “The Notebooks” which is expected to start shooting next year.
Abbout Productions are also developing an as-yet-untitled sophomore feature by Lebanese helmer Nadim Tabet, whose youth drama “One of These Days” premiered at the Rome Film Festival and is having its Middle East launch in Dubai, and “Costa Brava,” a first feature set amid Lebanon’s never-ending garbage crisis, to be directed by Mounia Akl, who studied film at Columbia University.
Abbout’s recent titles include doc “Panoptic” which bowed at Locarno and is screening in Dubai, and politically charged “Amal” which opened the IDFA documentary fest in Amsterdam.
Through their Schortcut Films shingle they are a co-producer of Berlin Fest Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize winner “Felicité” by French-Senegalese director Alain Gomis and also of Argentine director Lucrecia Martel’s existential epic “Zama.”