Film screening - Bennesbeh Labokra, Chou? by Ziad Rahbani

Ziad Rahbani's 1978 play "Bennesbeh Labokra, Chou?" (What about tomorrow?) will be screening in cinemas across the UAE starting Thursday, 18th February 2016.

The screening includes footage of several theatrical performances filmed on stage over 35 years ago. The footage was originally used as an internal tool to help the crew during rehearsals and was never meant to go public. 

After finding out this footage exists in the 1990s, the team from M Media tried to convince Ziad Rahbani to give them access to it. It took 17 years for Rahbani to agree to turn the footage of this play into a film, "on condition that the use of modern technology does not interfere with the authentic nature of the footage". It took six months of visual corrections (in Los Angeles) and two tears for sound restoration (in Hamburg) before returning to Beirut for editing.

Performed in 1978 over eight months, “Bennesbeh Labokra, Chou?” takes place in a bar in the trendy Hamra district, hosting a variety of people such as poets, reporters, businessmen and foreigners.

Zakaria (Ziad Rahbani) and his wife Thuraya (Nabila Zeitouni) have moved to Beirut from a rural village and work together at the bar to provide for their family and improve their social status. But as the couple’s ambitions are thwarted by the high cost of living, Thuraya also takes on, with Zakaria’s consent, remunerated escapades with customers to supplement their insufficient salaries and get out of their constrained financial situation.

A comedic tour de force with many faces, sensitively recreated with substantial restoration of original footage filmed with Super 8 cameras over 35 years ago, and retaining iconic music and cult-classic songs performed by the talented late Joseph Sakr, including “Ismaa Ya Rida” (Listen, Oh Rida), “Oghniyat Al Bosta” (The Bus Song) and “Aayshi Wahda Balak” (She is Doing Fine Without You).

Below is the trailer and some stills from the play. Hats off to M Media for bringing this to us and I only hope there will be a good turn out at the cinema for this, "Our only wish is that you overlook the various unavoidable glitches here and there - sudden wardrobe changes, jump cuts and other technical hiccups will occur - and enjoy the play, if only because it had such a lasting and positive effect on our whole national fabric."

The play was only seen live for eight months in 1978-1979, was broadcasted later on radio, but was never shown on TV or available on video. This is a rare opportunity to see this play on the big screen in the UAE. The screening in Lebanon was number one for three weeks in a row. 

Screening details:

The screening is in Arabic without any English subtitles and can be seen in the following cinemas/malls starting Thursday, 18th February:

  • Dubai - Reel Cinemas in Dubai Mall, Vox Cinemas in Mall of the Emirates, Novo Cinemas in Festival City and Ibn Battuta)
  • Abu Dhabi - Abu Dhabi Mall, Yas Mall, Sahara Mall 

Duration: 2hr 15 mins  

Visit the relevant cinema website for timings.