A Lara Saba romantic comedy soon in theaters

All roads lead to Rome is a film directed by Lara Saba, written by Joséphine Habchi, with an exceptional cast: Julia Kassar, Cynthya Karam, Betty Taoutel, Mirna Moukarzel, Ruba Zaarour and Chadi Haddad. Also participating are Refaat Torbey, Josyane Boulos, Nicolas Daniel, Hiam Abou Chedid, Charbel Ziadeh and Imad Feghali.

The premiere of the film took place within the framework of the second edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival. This romantic comedy, steeped in the spirituality of the holy Qadisha Valley and showcasing the beauty of Lebanese nature, will hit theaters on December 15.

The camera follows in the footsteps of Hadi, a renowned Lebanese actor, selected to play the role of the young pope in an international film. Hadi travels to Qannoubine to get away from her chaotic life and comes across a group of nuns who invite her to a retreat at their convent. There he meets a young woman.

Here Beirut met the film crew at the Red Sea International Film Festival.

Lara Saba, director:

“It all started with an idea from Chadi Haddad. I had a personal vision of history and a desire to deal with certain themes, such as liberalism which is gradually suffocating the planet, because I don’t want to leave a world like that to my children. This is where the ecological and social dimension of the film stems from, as well as the responsibility in art.We also worked with screenwriter Joséphine Habchi on the problem of farmers. The importance of nature was paramount, for me Qannoubin and the cedars exude a higher emotional and spiritual energy.

Lara Saba, director

Filming took place after August 4, which affected us all… It was bathed in an atmosphere of trust and mutual love between all the actors and me. I am especially grateful to the cast and crew for their drive and love.”

Josephine Habchi, screenwriter

Josephine Habchi, screenwriter:
“I had given up the possibility of studying directing in Australia… For my father, I stayed in Lebanon. I studied journalism and psychology. I also took acting classes with Joseph Bou Nassar But since “all roads lead to Rome”, I was contacted from the periodical An Nahar in 1993 and entrusted me with the cinema section. I did it until 2015, watching movies on a daily basis, along my journey. I was writing screenplays while hoping one day to be able to direct them. Chadi Haddad, a great trusted friend, calls me one day to develop his idea for a film. So I wrote the film in 2017 as a family comedy, but keeping a deep and quality touch. I currently have scripts in the making, whether for films or series. It’s very moving to see a screenplay that you wrote yourself on the big screen. It’s an unforgettable experience and I intend to persevere in this area.”

Chadi Haddad, actor:

“I play an actor who has experienced success and who returns to the sources, to the essence, to the love of simple things, of childhood, at first sight, far from a robotic world. I keep a sentence of my character: ‘You brought me back to the simplicity of life.’ Acting doesn’t depend on the relationship between the actors off-screen, although knowing the person sometimes adds a nice energy. I personally give my all in my acting and I believe in ping-pong between the actors. The main thing is to believe in it. If my playing partner reciprocates, the result is even better. Above all, it is a matter of training well before the shooting and psychologically building your character.

The shooting was a moment of pure pleasure. The basis of the film depends on the text. Otherwise, we go into the superficial. Series have the advantage of wide distribution. As for the magic of cinema, it is in the films that it exists.”

Julia Kassar, actress:

“Acting is a daily job. I always act as if it were the first time, without ever being sure of the outcome. I do my best to make my performance the best possible, but I wait with fear for the result. In each role, it is a new character construction. In this film, I play the role of Sister Paola who belongs to a specific convent and has a special relationship with the other sisters… Understanding others requires interaction, we don’t live on an island. Each time, we should take off our old clothes and put on a new one. Paola is like me in the fact that she understands others and solves problems . She likes simplicity, the earth, and she has faith… These are principles that I share. However, I am not religious!”

Betty Taoutel, actress:

“Theatre is my passion. My teachers gave me the chance to be on stage: Alain Plisson, Michel Jabre, Jalal Khoury and Roger Assaf. I worked with them on more than one play and I was influenced by Roger Assaf’s directing method. For writing, I was also influenced by Mr. Jalal Khoury, my playwriting teacher. I owe him a lot. When he left, he entrusted me with his courses on the History of the theater… Roger Assaf the same, for all that is direction of actors, exercises of direction.I am proud to have been their pupil.

When you’re an actor, you really are. I study my character and see where I can take it without encroaching on the work of others. The difference between theater and screen is a question of dosage. In the theatre, the public is our eye, whereas in the cinema, once we shoot, it’s done. No more backtracking. Everything must be prepared before shooting on set. We were lucky to have Josephine with us in the preparation phase, with a role written for me. In this film, the Creator God is present through the nuns and nature. I keep from this experience a background of spiritual retreat in the holy valley that this filming allowed me to do. This role reconciled me with my country after August 4… and with God.”

Myrna Moukarzel, actress:

“I read the script, discuss the character with the director and the scriptwriter then I build it from raw material and I redesign the script by adapting it to serve the character. Then there is a change on the set that takes place based on interaction with others.

My best memories remain this stay at the hotel; a moment of sharing with my children. I also keep the giggles and the moments when we put on our nuns’ clothes.

As for the theatre, I miss it a lot. It is a subject that I teach. I redo my recycling with my students, but I wait until my children grow up in order to return to the stage.”

Cynthya Karam, actress:

“To play a character is to embody this person. Each experience is precious, because it brings me a thousand emotions. An enormous love emanated from this experience, as well as the communication present in Lara which is contagious. We were ready for anything for her; step aside if necessary, play when necessary. When you feel love, you can only give it. I love my characters… and I work! I go all out where the character speaks to me the most. I picked up a key phrase from Gabriel Yammine in class: ‘Go out into the street. Look at the people.’ Observation makes me who I am. My gaze is imbued with love and sensitivity, without judgment. I look with my heart to remain faithful to my observation and convey the thoughts of my character. Of course, experience adds to the game… and I am a person who lives intensely, everything.

Beyond window dressing and the number of followersit’s about keeping the depth and not erasing the truth and the essence of things.”

Ruba Zaarour, actress:

“Despite its simplicity, the film conveys a message and shows the importance of nature in our lives, as well as that of returning to a simple life. Filming took place in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. We were confined and had to slow our pace and refocus. Each has discovered, in their own way, that life is not about fame and material, and that nature shows us the simplicity of life. The film takes place in a setting comical, but carrying deep meanings and imbued with romanticism. It is above all a quest for the self, an intellectual communication.”

Marie-Christine Tayah
Instagram: @mariechristine.tayah

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A Lara Saba romantic comedy soon in theaters