Lebanon Traveler meets filmmaker Philippe Aractingi at his production studio’s premises in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Badaro. The Lebanese director shares his memories of growing up in Beirut and how the city’s chaos can be a catalyst for creativity.
To the newcomer, navigating Beirut can seem daunting. The city, chaotic and changeable, can be a challenge to get around. Finding the offices of Lebanese filmmaker Philippe Aractingi was a timely reminder of that.
When you cross the Beirut River and enter the municipality of Burj Hammoud it seems like another city entirely. Whether you walk down the main promenade, taking in the sights and smells of the famous basterma (pastrami) restaurants, or get lost in the maze of streets selling every kind of artisanal product, Burj Hammoud is distinctly one thing: Armenian. Lebanon is home to around 230,000 persons of Armenian descent, the sixth largest Armenian population outside Armenia worldwide. They came at the beginning of the 20th century, refugees from the Medz Yeghern (Armenian for “the Great Crime”) – the systematic extermination of the Ottoman Empire’s Armenian population – disputed as genocide in modern day Turkey, but accepted as such by a growing number of states and individuals worldwide.
Sitting outside a coffee shop in Sassine, Ziad gestures to himself and says, “Look at me. Who could guess I like to whip women? ”
It’s a fair question, like other members of the clandestine Lebanese BDSM community with whom the Daily Star spoke, Ziad comes across as an average, middle-aged guy, the kind you’d expect to see at the office or chain smoking in a cafe. Human sexuality comes up in ordinary conversation often, but BDSM – an umbrella term for bondage, dominance, submission, sadism and masochism – is not a sexual preference many understand.