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   The Oil Spill in Lebanon

 

Lebanon oil spill documentary wins first prize at international film festival

The film, called The Oil Spill in Lebanon, depicts the environmentally-disastrous oil slick caused by Israel’s bombing of the Jiyyeh power plant in south Lebanon on July 13 and 15, 2006.

The documentary shows how the prevailing currents and winds carried the oil slick north, polluting more than 150 km of Lebanese shoreline and releasing about 15,000 tones of toxic fuel into the Mediterranean. “The film dealt with an important subject, which is the harm we humans can cause to the sea, and a disaster that affected, as we perceived it, not only Lebanon, but the entire Mediterranean and its people,” said Captain Cristiano Aliperta, a member of the judging panel and head of foreign affairs and public relations at the Italian National Coast Guards.

The Oil Spill in Lebanon is the only account of this environmental disaster and was directed by independent Lebanese film maker Hady Zaccak. It was funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the support of the Ministry of Environment in Lebanon.

The half-hour film tells the story of the oil slick, its environmental impacts and the struggle of the Lebanese authorities and civil society in trying to deal with the problem in difficult war and post-war conditions. The oil slick affected the livelihoods of more than 40,000 people working in the fisheries sector and other industries dependent on the sea, such as tourism. It also affected important ecological sites, such as Palm Islands Nature Reserve, home to important birds, flora and sea species.

Endangered marine turtles nesting on sandy beaches were highly exposed to the toxic fuel that went untreated for more than a month due to the lasting war. International help and equipment to deal with the oil slick were delayed for 33 days by the Israeli embargo and continued war.

The prize for the film was awarded at the European and Mediterranean Film Festival on the TV of the Sea during the last week of September. The festival took place on La Maddalena Island off the Italian island, Sardinia. The film won after a unanimous vote from the jury, which included 12 multi-national technical members and experts in sea and media issues.

Receiving the award, film maker Hady Zaccak, said : “It feels strange to gain an award for a film that talks about a disaster like this one, which has had lasting effects on my country. I am not sure if I feel happiness or sadness at this moment.”

The public and members of the judging panel watching the film said they were deeply affected by the images and facts revealed. Participation in the festival by the film helped raise awareness of the impacts of war on the environment.

The Oil Spill in Lebanon documentary competed against 26 films about various topics related to the sea, including fishing, immigration, marine species, marine parks, responsible marine tourism and marine environmental disasters.

IUCN

09 October 2007

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