MAD Solutions secures World Sales rights to Berlinale Panorama title DIARIES FROM LEBANON

08 February 2024
As was reported in Variety last week, after a string of high-profile film acquisitions last year resulting in resounding success locally and internationally, the prolific and world's leading sales agent and distributor of Arabic-language films, MAD Solutions, has picked up the worldwide rights to Myriam El-Hajj’s feature documentary DIARIES FROM LEBANON ahead of its highly anticipated world premiere in the Panorama section of the Berlin International Film Festival, which will be running from February 16th to the 26th in its 73rd edition.
In 2023, MAD Solutions formally announced their sales arm on the world stage, making a big splash with Mohamed Kordofani’s GOODBYE JULIA — the first Sudanese feature film to be selected for Cannes and Sudan’s official submission to the 96th Academy Awards, which has gone on to secure distribution in over 15 countries worldwide. They have continued to carefully build on this success, with upcoming titles including two female-directed debut features, Laila Abbas’ THANK YOU FOR BANKING WITH US and Ahd Kamel’s MY DRIVER AND I, in addition to a recent pickup of Tunisian debut feature TAKE MY BREATH, which premiered at Warsaw last fall.
El-Hajj’s documentary follows Georges, Joumana, and Perla Joe, who each belong to a different generation and have their unique perspectives on how they want to change their motherland, Lebanon, whether through war, politics, or revolution. However, as the country is shaken by disruptions and personal quests for meaning and survival unfold, they are confronted with a profound question — is it possible to sustain our dream in the face of a crumbling world around us?
A joint production between Lebanon, France, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, DIARIES OF LEBANON (in Arabic ‘Mitl ‘Osas el Hob’, or ‘Like Love Stories’) is written and directed by El-Hajj and produced by powerhouse Lebanese producer Myriam Sassine of Abbout Productions (Lebanon) and Carine Ruszniewski of GOGOGO Films (France)
Speaking about her excitement for the film’s world premiere, director El-Hajj said, “For seven years in the making, 'Diaries from Lebanon' has been a voyage – both intimate and political. We are delighted that Berlinale has recognized our work and, through it, the experiences we have lived. Panorama is a bold section, both politically and artistically. The film couldn't have found a better place. We are happy to finally be able to share this story hand in hand with MAD Solutions, our Arab and World Sales partner. They have accompanied us from early on with a lot of attention and sensitivity. This story is also their story – a story of struggle and resistance. Just like love stories.”
Producer Myriam Sassine also commented, “It’s been a challenge to make this film, which encapsulates four pivotal years of Lebanon's tumultuous history and the narratives of three distinct generations, each marked by life-altering events, while we, the team making this film, were living through this unprecedented crisis.
The selection at Berlinale marks a significant milestone in our journey, reflecting the dedication and passion invested by everyone involved in this project. In choosing MAD Solutions as our partner for international sales, we were guided by their extensive experience in handling Arab films. Their aptitude to navigate the nuances and complexities of our regional cinema gives me great confidence that 'Diaries From Lebanon' will reach and resonate with a global audience.
This collaboration is a testament to our shared commitment to bringing powerful and authentic stories from the Arab world to the international stage.”
MAD Solutions co-founders Alaa Karkouti and Maher Diab also commented on their delight to represent the film worldwide: “Having tracked ‘Diaries From Lebanon’ for the past several years, we have kept waiting for this special documentary to make its break onto the world stage. We could see the magical moments Myriam created out of the tapestry of Lebanese society. It is a film that shows countless moments of beauty in the struggle. We are proud to have acquired this film for world sales and couldn’t be more excited to bring it to audiences around the globe.”
DIARIES FROM LEBANON received support from the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée (CNC), the Fonds Image de la Francophonie, Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, International Media Support (IMS), Visions Sud Est with the support of the SDC, and the Lebanese Film Fund-an Initiative of the Fondation Liban Cinema.
The film also received additional funding from Doha Film Institute, the Red Sea Fund, and the Atlas Workshops of the Marrakech International Film Festival, and won the Mactari Mixing Auditorium Award and Titra Films Award at the Final Cut in Venice Workshop.
Myriam El-Hajj is a Lebanese filmmaker whose debut feature documentary, A TIME TO REST, premiered at Visions du Réel-Nyon in 2015 and won awards at many international film festivals.
She teaches cinema at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts and is a member of several film commissions, including the CNC and Doha Film Institute. She’s also a founding member of Rawiyat-Sisters in Film — a collective of female filmmakers from the Arab World and its diaspora.
Currently, Myriam is working on the feature film COMMEDIA, which deals with the fall of a social class and the legacy of the past.
Abbout Productions produces feature films and documentaries with a distinctly Arab voice, expressing the identity of the region. Since 1998, the company brought together an important network of Arab and Lebanese filmmakers and artists and produced critically acclaimed award-winning films that screened at the most prestigious film festivals, such as Cannes, Venice, Berlinale, Toronto, Karlovy Vary, and Locarno.
Among its significant titles are Mounia Akl’s TIFF NETPAC Award recipient COSTA BRAVA LEBANON, Venice Critic’s Week winner of Best Film and Audience Award ALL THIS VICTORY by Ahmad Ghossein, and Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige’s MEMORY BOX, which premiered in Competition at Berlinale in 2021.
Meanwhile, GOGOGO Films — established by Carine Ruszniewski in 2018 — is a French production company that operates in Paris and Marseille, producing unique documentaries for cinema and television, as well as short and feature-length films by young filmmakers, including ON THE EDGE by Nicolas Peduzzi, which received a Special Mention from the CPH:DOX Documentary Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize and the Critics Award at the Champs Elysées Film Festival. It also worked on the 2024 Berlinale title GOLD MARIA by Patrick and Hugo Sobelman and Dania Bdeir’s Oscar-shortlisted WARSHA, winner of the Jury Prize for Best International Short Film at Sundance.