Lebanese Actress/ Politician's Daughter Joanna Andraos in
Edited by C2000 from review at Download Foreign Movies
"Help" is a Lebanese film by director Marc Abi-Rached. It's
the mostly platonic triangular story of a delinquent teenager
called Ali who lives in an abandoned van in a junkyard, who
befriends a prostitute called Soraya, who rooms with her gay
friend Janot. The themes - homosexuality, prostitution, drug
taking - and full frontal nudity from Joanna Andraos are
daring for Lebanon. Particularly as Joanna is the daughter of
Antoine Andraos a senior politician in the ruling March 14
So far so cool. Abi-Rached got permission to distribute his
movie in July 2008 from the ominously called Lebanese General
Security board, which serves as the country's film licensing
authority. The board asked Abi-Rached to blur a scene of lower
frontal nudity, and to restrict the movie to adults.
Abi-Rached complied and got himself a license--license number
1460, to be precise. The movie was shown to reviewers on Feb.
12, who gave it pretty good reviews, and it was scheduled to
open on Feb. 19.
Then it was banned. So what could have happened to the movie?
It's Lebanon, therefore it's conspiracy time. The religious
element is obvious, but too obvious. Too convenient. The
homosexual element may be a bit more convincing. Lebanon isn't
Iowa, after all (or Vermont or Massachusetts or California).
It's more like the sort of place where Antonin Scalia and
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could still feel comfortable--where
homosexual acts are illegal.
So maybe that's what did it. Lebanon's moviemakers, from
Nadine Labaki ("Caramel") to the emerging great Philipe
Aractingi ("Bosta," "Under the Bombs") and the fitfully
fabulous Ziad Doueiri ("West Beyrouth," "Lila dit ša") are an
undiscovered country of force and wonders. But they tread on
themes close to Lebanon's broken heart. In "Help," Marc
Abi-Rached tries the Star Trek approach--going where no
Lebanese moviemaker has gone before. Gay theme, full monty. A
dare too far?
No. It's about Joanna Andraos. She's one of the stars of the
movie. She's also the daughter of Antoine Andraos. Antoine
Andraos is a member of Lebanon's Parliament. Not only that.
He's a member or the ruling March 14 Alliance. He's running
for reelection in June's parliamentary bash. And he, like the
rest of the March 14 Alliance that represents Lebanon's
alleged "Cedar Revolution" (and western outlook) is in a fight
for the coalition's life as Hezbollah's coalition appears
poised to make big gains, and perhaps demolish the March 14
Antoine Andraos doesn't want to lose. He doesn't want his
daughter's movie thrown up in his face every time he delivers
a speech. If you know Lebanese families, if you know Lebanese
fathers, you probably know the kind of anguished,
top-of-the-lung screaming match that may have taken place in
the Andraos living room. Spacious as it is, as all Lebanese
living rooms are, it wouldn't have been spacious enough to
contain the decibels of Father Andraos shouting his despair at
his daughter's transformation into a prostitute, however
fictional the transformation.