UMAM Documentation and Research was looking forward to announcing a series of events around Beirut under the title “Celebrating 60 Years of Baalbeck Studios.” These events – an exhibition in November, followed by talks and a cine-concert in December –were designed to celebrate the 60 year anniversary of Baalbeck Studio’s openings in 1963, but have now been postponed due to the current situation until further notice.
Since 2010, UMAM D&R has been working on preserving and analyzing the written and audio-visual archives salvaged from the seminal Baalbeck Studios, one of the most prominent historical production companies in the Middle East and a cornerstone for Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi, Kuwaiti, Egyptian, Jordanian and international cinema productions, recordings and broadcasting. As a result of these years of work, parts of the written and audio-visual materials have been digitized (the former thanks to collaboration with the Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art in Germany) but we have also conducted in-depth research and organization of these materials.
We, along with other organizations and individuals in Lebanon, are deeply concerned about the dire reality of the current moment, the risk of degradation of the situation, and an increase in violent conflict in Lebanon itself. While we feel that it is not a time for celebrations, UMAM D&R is committed to continuing to work according to its guiding philosophy that critical engagement with Lebanon and the region’s multifaceted history – social, political, and cultural – is needed to understand the present and imagine a better future.
UMAM D&R stands in support of all of those who are being systematically persecuted and even killed in violation of their freedom of expression, freedom to live in dignity and with equal rights, and freedom to freely participate in the cultural life of the community. We continue to undertake and dedicate our work to those who have lost their lives in defense of these principles of human rights, justice, and accountability.