Interview with Assaad Khoueiry, director of A Broken Fan
Saturday 29 January 2022, by ,
Adel, a desperate jobless father, gets out on the streets of Beirut hoping for change.
Can you tell us more about the conditions that have led your protagonist to take action?
When you are the only breadwinner in your family and you have to provide them with food and the most basic needs of life, pay the school tuition fees, the rent and the bills. Then you find yourself jobless without any income, you start feeling useless and obliged to take action. That’s the case of Adel, a 42 years old jobless desperate father and the only breadwinner for his wife, three children and his parents.
Is his character based on someone you know?
Actually, it’s based on a lot of people around me, I was seeing parents struggling to provide their kids the basic needs of life, some were jobless, some other lost their jobs or closed their businesses due to the bad economic situation while many other people were committing suicide after losing hope in a better future. At this point, I decided to write a story about a real-life character, about a worried and depressed Lebanese father who’s ready to do in order to insure a better life for himself and his family.
How was it filming in Lebanon given those conditions? (Heat, electricity outage etc.)
Since the government is totally absent, the private sector in Lebanon became so powerful and took the role of the state. For instance, private generators took the place of national electricity, private hospitals replaced public health while the private schools and universities took the job of the government in public education etc. As for the shooting in Beirut the film was shot in a normal moderate weather, mostly exteriors. For the interior scenes we had to rent a private generator to prevent an electricity cut. Not to mention also the total absence of the government regarding its role in financing and supporting art and artists in all forms which make the process of making a movie much harder.
Can you tell us more about your background as a filmmaker?
Sometimes I regret being a filmmaker, it is an exhausting job. It takes a lot of energy, time and money to make a film specially in a third world country like Lebanon. But the worthy thing is how powerful cinema can be. For me it’s a place where I can express myself, my feelings, my fears and my insecurities. I can turn my anger towards injustice and inequalities into a piece of art called Cinema. I did my film studies in the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik – Lebanon. I was totally amazed by films and filmmakers like The Dardenne brothers, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Ken Loach, Andrey Zvyagintsev and Abbas Kiarostami.
Is there a particular short film that has made a strong impression on you?
I have seen maybe hundreds of short films and each film impresses me in his own way, but if I really have to name some, it’s going to be The Big Shave by Martin Scorsese, The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse and A Summer Dress by François Ozon maybe because these shorts were three of the first short films I have seen in my career as filmmaker. Also, I’m in love with Wild Tales by Damian Szifron and There Is No Evil by Mohammad Rasoulof. These are feature films composed of different short films.
What’s your definition of a good film?
Usually, I’m not a fan of movies with the main target to only entertain the viewer. Script, characters, acting, cinematography and music are all such important elements to make a good film, but the presence of the filmmaker and his point of view towards all these elements makes a great film. A film should have something to say and this, in my opinion, should affect all the elements of the film from the script, dialogue, lighting, lenses, props, sound design, music and color grading. All these should serve the story and the director’s position, from the film in the first place and from real life in general. After all a good film is a film that enters your heart in a way or another regardless of its origin, genre or production budget. As simple as that.