In Lebanon, TV series and big screen movies are extremely dissimilar. Away from censorship and poor acting, Lebanese cinema has been flourishing in and outside of its motherland.  

Here are 5 movies that made it big worldwide and at home, and they should definitely be on top of your watch list:

1. West Beirut (1998)

The 1998 Lebanese drama film, written and directed by Ziad Doueiri, follows the story of a curious boy named Tarek, his friend Omar, and his Christian neighbor May. 

After an abrupt high-school break in April due to the escalation of the civil war in 1975, Doueiri’s camera follows the teens in their adventures around the now partitioned Beirut.

2. Where Do We Go Now? (2001)

From Lebanese director Nadine Labaki comes the 2011 movie W Halla’ La Wayn, unfolding a story of coexistence between Muslims and Christians in a rural, isolated village. As religious tensions arise in Lebanon, they slowly creep up on them. 

The women of the village, in an attempt to keep their home area at peace, decide to cooperate and take matters into their own hands.

3. Caramel (2007)

Nadine Labaki strikes again in her first feature film, this time as a writer and cast member in the 2007 romantic comedy Caramel

In Beirut, Layale (Nadine Labaki) owns and runs the beauty salon Si Belle with the help of two other women, Nisrine (Yasmine Al Masri), and Rima (Joanna Moukarzel). 

In the movie, we get to know the secrets they’ve been keeping and the mischiefs they’ve been up to. A tale of friendship and solidarity unravels as we’re left fighting with the beliefs we have surrounding sex and sexuality, among other taboos in a traditional society.

4. Ghadi (2013)

It’s hard being a young boy with down syndrome in a small rural village, but when Ghadi’s neighbors get frustrated by his condition and petition to evict him, things get tricky. 

Ghadi, the 2013 Lebanese drama directed by Amin Dora, is a story of how this young man, with the help of his parents and their close friends, turns from being the town’s most despised person to a literal angel.

5. 12 Angry Lebanese (2009)

Taking a twist on the prominent teleplay-turned-film 12 Angry Men, writer, director, and producer Zeina Daccache chronicles the life of a group of Roumieh prison inmates in the 2009 documentary 12 Angry Lebanese

Daccache spends 15 months preparing the inmates to be actors in an adaptation of the original play. Throughout the documentary, we get to see the true colors of these criminals as they struggle with regret, forgiveness, and hope for a future outside of prison.

Daccache sails through the inmates’ rehearsals, therapy sessions, dance routines, and backstories, depicting an unforgettable message about Lebanon’s inhumane penal system.