12 Angry Lebanese
»Others made fun of us for coming to work with Zeina, but I felt I suddenly had a reason to wake up in the morning.«
– Zanelo, drug-dealer
Approximately 4.000 convicted men are locked up in Beirut‘s Roumieh Prison. Convinced that the art of acting can change lives, Zeina Daccache set out to implement a therapy project with some inmates at the largest prison facility in Lebanon. For a period of 15 months, 45 dangerous criminals worked together to present an adaptation of Reginald Rose‘s famous stage play 12 Angry Men, which they re-named 12 Angry Lebanese, and to make a documentary film of the process.
In the course of the project, acting took on a cathartic function for the men involved. They open out, talk about their feelings and give viewers some insight into their lives – in a way, presumably, they had never done before. Measured against their former understanding of social role, they thus embarked on a truly remarkable un-male journey. Their preconception was probably this: that theatre arouses feelings and anyone who has feelings is vulnerable. So to give in to their feelings anyway, that‘s the real triumph.
If therapy programmes with prisoners are nothing new in other parts of the world, the Roumieh project as led by Zeina Daccache was a pioneering first for Lebanon. In 2007, she founded the Catharsis Lebanese Centre for Drama Therapy (LCDT) and, by 2009, was running similar therapy projects in another 13 Lebanese regional jails. 12 Angry Lebanese has won awards at numerous festivals including Syria and Dubai.
Awards for ›12 Angry Lebanese‹
Audience Award, Festival du Film de Compiegne, Frankreich 2010 | Noor Award for Outstanding Documentary, Arab Film Festival, San Francisco – Los Angeles 2010 | Audience Award, Dox Box International Documentary Festival, Damascus 2010 | Best Documentary, Muhr Arab Award, Dubai International Film Festival 2009 | People‘s Choice Award, Dubai International Film Festival 2009
Film Programme Resistance through Art
In 2000, Zeina Daccache took her first examinations in scenic and dramatic art at the Institute of Scenic Audiovisual and cinematography studies at the Saint Joseph University in Lebanon. She then attended the Ecole Philippe Gaulier before graduating in drama therapy at Kansas State University in the USA. In 2007, she set up Catharsis LCDT, the Catharsis Lebanese Centre for Drama Therapy. In addition to the Roumieh Prison project, she has worked in rehabilitation centres with substance abuse patients of both sexes. In 2009, Ms Daccache completed an M.Sc. in Clinical Psychology at Haigazian University in Lebanon.
Films by Zeina Daccache