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Cyril Aris Portrait

Biography:

Cyril Aris is a Lebanese Director & Screenwriter and a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences®.

His debut feature documentary, The Swing (2018) premiered at the 53rd Karlovy Vary IFF, and won awards in El-Gouna, Rome, London, Budapest and Tunisia. The Hollywood Reporter called it an ‘Intimate and moving […] meditation on truth, love and lies in the face of illness and death’.

He is currently in development for his first fiction feature, ‘It’s a Sad and Beautiful World ’, recipient of a development grant from the Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, Germany 2020, and selected at the 2019 TIFF Filmmaker Lab in Toronto, the Nantucket Screenwriter Colony in the US, the CineGouna Platform in Egypt, and won the A.R.T award at the Beirut Cinema Platform and a residency at the Cité des Arts in Paris.

He is also in post-production for a short documentary, Children of Beirut (2020), produced by the BBC – UK.

His last fiction short film, The President’s Visit (2017), premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and won awards in Dubai, Nashville, the US National Board of Review and played in over 70 festivals.

Previous credits include short film Siham (2013), jury award at the Palm Springs ShortFest, LBC’s TV series Beirut, I Love You (2011, 2012), and Yahoo’s web-series Fasateen (2012), which both gathered several million views.

He holds an MFA from Columbia University in the City of New York, and has taught Film at Columbia University, NHSI at Northwestern University and Barnard College.

Editing credits include American-Filippino feature film Death of Nintendo (2020) directed by Raya Martin, premiering at the 70th Berlinale in the Generation competition, after being selected at the Venice Gap Financing Market at the 76th Venice Film Festival, as well as dozens of commercials, music videos and fashion films for clients such as Google, YouTube Music, Macy’s, Xfinity Comcast, Nintendo, Michelin etc. for post-production houses in New York, Paris and Beirut such as Final Cut NY, Vice Films, 1st Avenue Machine, Complex Media, Technicolor, Womanray and others.

Producing credits include short film Submarine (2016), directed by Mounia Akl, official selection at the 69th Cannes Film Festival (Cinefondation competition), as well as TIFF, SxSW and over 100 festivals worldwide. It won the Jury Award in Dubai and was Staff picked by Vimeo, receiving 350,000+ views.

Filmography:
  • It’s a Sad and Beautiful World (Feature Film, in development)
  • Children of Beirut (Short Documentary, 2020)
  • The Swing (Feature Documentary, 2018)
  • And Then I Was Hearing Colors (Experimental Short, 2018)
  • The President’s Visit (Short Film, 2017)
  • Siham (Short Film, 2013)
  • Fasateen (Web-series, 10 episodes, 2012)
  • Beirut, I Love You (TV series, 53 episodes, 2011-12)

Interview:

1- How do you feel about the fact that you live abroad but keep telling stories of your country and your family. 
I alternate my time between Beirut and the US, so I cannot say that I live abroad fully, nor do I live full time in Lebanon. I am somewhere in between, and that gives me a healthy perspective towards our Lebanese society, its customs and its values. The reason I keep telling stories set in Lebanon is because I feel it is the culture I can and am interested to talk about the most, given that I’m born in Lebanon and have lived a big portion of my life in Beirut. I believe one can only make truthful movies about what one knows best, and for me, Lebanon is still the framework that fulfills that criterion.
2- What are/were the difficulties or obstacles you have faced in your artistic journey and how did you overcome them? 
It was tough to throw myself into the world of film, given the instability and insecurity this industry brings, so I first worked as an engineer and a management consultant. It really is when I could not contain that passion for film anymore that I dropped everything and gave it all to filmmaking. It is hard to find financing for Arab films, as the audience for these kinds of films is rather niche. Earning the interest of the international community and financing from non-Arab countries is not impossible but quite tough, as it is a very competitive industry. Over the years, I’ve learned to understand the struggles and enjoy the process regardless, and not be only focused on the result; filmmaking is all about the process after all.
3- What did you learn from your past artistic experiences? Artistically, financially, personally…
Ask me the question again in 50 years? There’s a known anecdote of Japanese master filmmaker Kurosawa, writing a letter to Bergman saying “I am not 77 and convinced that my real work is just beginning”.
Website & contact:
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