Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki came to Chicago last week to promote her comic battle-of-the-sexes movie, "Where Do We Go Now?" opening this weekend at the Century Centre in Chicago.
I had five questions for her about this comedy, which depicts Muslim and Christian women banding together to keep their hotheaded menfolk from starting another religious war.
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Q. Your movie boldly shows Christian and Muslim women placing civility and safety above religious rules, disobeying their menfolk and radically deviating from traditions to trick them. Have you been criticized for this?
A. No, because I think everyone wants to get over this. We are already divided, especially in Lebanon where we already have 18 different factions. We either belong to a religion, a party or a cause. We belong to these more than we belong to Lebanon. We feel more Christian or Muslim before we feel Lebanese.
The people have had enough of this. At the end of the day, we are all people who breathe the same air and drink the same water. Our children go to the same school. I made this film because I've had enough, but I'm not the only one. Many people have had enough.
Q. Do you really think a movie by a woman will have any positive effect on the world?
A. If you are angry about something, you write an article. When I am angry, I make a film. I will do whatever I can to reflect a certain state of mind. Or a certain position or certain statement. I do believe in the power of film. I do believe that film can have an impact on people. It can be a very powerful weapon for change.
Q. How has the birth of your son changed you?
A. It does. Becoming a mother changes your perspective. It makes you less egotistical. It makes you think about what kind of world you're bringing your child into. We live in a society that is willing to take up weapons for any stupid reasons. It does change your perspective.
Q. Would the world be better off if run by women?
A. You know, I'm not sure. Maybe the world would be worse if we were in power. I don't know. What I do know is that I'm aware of my responsibilities. More women should be aware of their responsibilities. And the impact they can have on future generations.
I'm not pitching for women to become empowered. I'm intending for human beings to become aware of their responsibilities. Be aware that they can make a change.
Q. What's it like to be married to the composer of your music scores, Khaled Mouzanar?
A. It's amazing. He's there when the film is born. He's there at home listening to our conversations, maybe sometimes sharing ideas. He's absorbing everything we're talking about. We don't, of course, always agree. And I'm lucky because I think he's really talented.