Peace Bus wheels out art and culture in south Lebanon
It is summer time in Tyre, south Lebanon, the city from where the tour to know Lebanon starts.
From the city that hosts the history of Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, and others, nearly every day the engine of the “Peace Bus” starts from the Istanbouli Theatre – Cinema Rivoli in Tyre and heads to the villages located in the southern districts of Tyre, Bint Jbeil, and Jabal Aamel. It’s all part of one mission aimed at promoting arts and culture.
This is the cultural film festival entitled “Know Lebanon from Mobile Cinema through a Peace Bus in South Lebanon”.
The “Mobile Peace Bus” - decorated with graffiti of Lebanese art icons - picks up children from the southern towns, alongside the Tiro Association for Arts team, and stops in one village to carry out its activities.
The festival includes screening movies from 20 countries along with documentary and animated movies, coupled with theatre performances, and drawings made by children in the southern villages depicting traditions and scenarios of the south.
“We have visited 20 villages so far – about two villages per week – and spent about two hours [in each],” said Tiro Association for Arts founder, Kassem Istanbouli
Some of these villages are: Abbasiyeh, Burj Rahhal, Dayr Qanoun, al-Naher, Dayr Qanoun, Ras al-Ain, Al Qulaylah, Srifa, Shamaa, Arzoun, Naqoura, Qana and Tibnin.
The overall project is supported by various funds and efforts, including UNIFIL, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Tiro Association for Arts.
“The project consists of developing and creating tourism material that can help promote and market south Lebanon as touristic area, taking into consideration the fact that south Lebanon lacks this type of marketing,” said Petra Obeid, head of Youth Center and Local Committees in the Ministry of Tourism. “The aim is to place the villages in south Lebanon under the spotlight for tourism, which is done by meeting and coordinating with the municipalities and UNIFIL.”
Tiro Association for Arts has been working since 2012. The Association brings together youth of different cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds, with the objective of building arts and creating safe spaces where people respect differences and can peacefully meet, play and work together, irrespective of their background, gender or religious affiliation.
Wrapping up his activities in the southern town of Qana, Mr. Istanbouli commented, “through culture and art, we get to know each other; we know each other’s culture, language, traditions, concerns. It is a way to discover each other, and when we know each other we will not make war against each other.”
The festival aims at promoting a culture of social integration among youth, promoting cultural awareness and respect for diversity through movies that portray other cultures including from Algiers, Italy and Spain in addition to various regions of Lebanon, from the North, Beqaa and Beirut. Activities also include animation activities with youth and their municipalities’ focal points to motivate young people to create a product to represent their villages such as paintings, posters or literature.
“Cinema is a platform for cultures and communities to meet,” Mr. Istanbouli concludes. “It’s simply a tool for peace.”