Let’s face it, Lebanon is far from perfect, but it’s not nearly as bad as we often portray it. While various economic, political and environmental crises keep shaking the country’s stability and image, it’s our outlook on the future that has taken the biggest hit.
When the second anniversary of General Michel Aoun’s election came around, the Lebanese presidency saw it as the perfect opportunity to deliver a message of hope to the Lebanese people, conveying it through an inspiring film.
Dubbed “The Awakening”, the Presidency’s film celebrates the country’s real-life, everyday heroes, reminding viewers that if each one of us performs his or her role greatly, together, we can be the Great People of Lebanon. It premiered during a live interview with the President and immediately struck a positive chord, earning over two million views and shares online.
Created by TBWARAAD and produced by Big Kahuna Films, the film was equally meaningful to the people behind it.
“It’s important to support and produce ideas of this sort that capture the potential of this country and carry a message of positivity. We need first to believe in a greater future, before we can achieve it,” said Eddy Rizk, Managing Director of Big Kahuna Films.
Karim Rahbani, the director of the film added: “It was a great honor for me to work on a project of this scale. I’m 26 years old, and I believe that this is a testament to all the young talent in this country who will surely put Lebanon’s name on the global map. It was also extremely inspiring to shoot real Lebanese, playing the same amazing roles they play every day.”
The wave of positivity didn’t end with The Awakening; it continued with an even bigger message of hope, broadcasted through a film celebrating 75 years of Lebanon’s independence.
Taking a positive tone yet remaining true to the country’s at times tumultuous history, the film shows Lebanese parents and grandparents reading to their children and grandchildren from one unified book on Lebanon, which covers the good and the bad. The book is a metaphor for our need to unite, and the subtext is that hope for a better future is passed down from generation to generation and it can bridge gaps.
The film features mostly real parents and grandparents from various areas in Lebanon, to emphasize that national progress is a collective effort. It’s an open invitation to all Lebanese to put their differences behind them and trust in the value of their country. In a surprise ending, even President Michel Aoun himself is seen reading to his grandchildren from the same book.
“Amidst rampant feelings of discontent among the Lebanese, it was imperative to remind people of where we can be tomorrow,” said Rita El Hachem, Stoked Films producer. “Lebanon always rises. This is a message we live by and had the pleasure of translating on screen,” she added. For director Ed Yazbeck, “Making this film brought back a sense of patriotism and pride.”
Since airing live for the first time on the eve of Independence Day, the film has earned a massive number of likes and shares on social media, proving that while hope may be low in supply, it is high in demand, and perhaps the most important message we can broadcast is one promoting our country.
As Chief Creative Officer of TBWARAAD, Walid Kanaan said: “To us, a bright future for Lebanon is the greatest cause and one we will always campaign for.
The moral of both stories is that it’s time we tuned out the negativity and tapped into our unique ability to turn things around.”
In the words of Michel Habis, Advisor to The President of the Lebanese Republic General Michel Aoun: “Greatness is embedded within the DNA of our people; since always, Lebanese have been turning the odds in their favor to achieve. Both patriotic films proudly acknowledge every Lebanese citizen who is making a positive contribution and adding value to the community. They address all Lebanese with a unifying message from the Presidency of the Republic, encouraging each and every one of us to bring out the best for the benefit of all.”
Claudine Aoun Roukoz, Special Assistant and daughter of the Lebanese President, concluded: “These two commercials are intended to ask every Lebanese citizen to put aside his/her political or confessional affiliations, because our belonging to Lebanon has to be greater than anything else. The creative effort behind this campaign stems from the urgent need to join hands and to come up with ways and solutions to irreversibly improve our nation and our people's situation and, most importantly, to regain pride in our national identity.”