About Baalbeck Studios
And Other Lebanese Sites of Memory
عن ستوديو بعلبك

ومنازل لبنانية أُخْرى
By Monika Borgmann & Lokman Slim
© 2013 UMAM D&R
Arabic - English - French

For over two decades, starting in 1963, Baalbeck Studios was the source of many of the soundtracks and visuals experienced and "consumed" in Lebanon, but also other Arab countries like Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, to name a few. The best sound studio attracted the who's who of singers and voice-over artists, and sent its engineers across the region on assignments. To commercial, documentary and feature film directors, producers and DoPs, it was the go-to place for equipment rental and a sought-after laboratory. When UMAM D&R found out in 2010 that the building that had housed Baalbeck Studios in Sin el Fil was to be demolished, it arranged a rescue mission to salvage primarily paper documents and film cans.

This publication, launched on the occasion of the re-opening of the Institut français du Liban's Salle de Montaigne and screening of La Châtelaine, on September 22, 2013, is the result of a first engagement with the archive rescued. It provides insight into the genesis of the company, set up by Badie Bulos, a visionary businessman with Palestinian roots who previously had been one of the founders of Intra Bank, directed by Youssef Beidas.

Besides giving insight into the company's activities it includes some of the many stories the archive holds, accompanied by many scanned documents, such as the fateful film, "Koullouna Fidayoun," that Gary Garabedian directed in 1968, which concluded with a botched explosion that killed the director and some of his crew. Also featured is an exchange between Youssef Chahine and Bulos concerning "A Kingdom of Heaven," a film that was never completed, and exchanges between the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)’s Central Information Committee and Baalbeck Studios.

Among the company's clients were liberation movements, political and religious organizations, but also the Lebanese Army and all the key cultural figures of the time, successful recording artists, and the leading advertising agencies, as well as some regional and international producers and directors.

A small, hand-written letter Baalbeck Studios received in 1966 from 13-year old Tony Fouad Monsef from Antelias helps to gauge the company's reach and reputation and impact of cinema culture: the teenager dreamed of becoming an actor and was willing to do anything required of him to fulfil his dream.

This publication is part of the Baalbeck Studios initiative and was made possible thanks to funding from the Institut français du Liban.