An official website of the European Union. See all European Institutions
Excellencies, Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very happy to see you all here tonight for the opening of the 23rd edition of the European Film Festival in Beirut.
And I can tell you, even before tonight, it has been a great day today in the relationship between Europe and Lebanon. We had an important visit of our European foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, who was here with a message on behalf of all 28 EU Member States: That Lebanon has our full support and we want this country to succeed as an example of tolerance and religious co-existence in this region where those qualities are going through difficult times. As Ms Mogherini said: Lebanon is a miracle!
Just like Europe, Lebanon is a country that is united in diversity or even in spite of diversity. And maybe that is why our European Film Festival has always been so well received here in Lebanon in the 23 years we have already had this great tradition. Because Lebanese are curious and open minded and always eager to learn about what is going on outside this country.
And cinema is exactly a place where people meet and are introduced both to other worlds, but more than anything to a world that is a reflection of our own humanity. The festival is not only a chance for viewers to discover the latest European films, but most importantly it is a reminder of the universal nature of human beings.
We are lucky today to be given this chance of entering the world of cinema in a city that spells diversity and coexistence of cultures in an attractive – and sometimes chaotic, but always charming - way – Beirut.
This is where we are able to see how much our societies, European and Lebanese, have in common in terms of both culture and daily human challenges.
This is also the reason why we have decided that when the European Union engages with the world, culture is at the centre of our foreign policy. Culture can help us fight and prevent radicalisation. But it can also foster economic growth. Culture is fundamental to the European Union's commitment to peace and freedom of expression, respect for fundamental rights and diversity. It can help us stand together in the face of common threats and build partnerships and alliances among both people and institutions.
I would like to thank the Ministry of Culture for supporting this festival and also the embassies and cultural institutes of the European Union, and this year's guest embassies, Switzerland, Serbia and Ukraine. Without their support, the Festival would not have been possible. A special tribute goes to l'Institut Français du Liban for their precious cooperation in organising the screenings in seven Lebanese cities in coordination with local European and Lebanese partners. A big thank to Metropolis Cinema for their valuable work with the EU Delegation organising this festival and to the LBCI for once again promoting the festival.
We have worked to organise this 23rd European Film Festival in order to take you on an enjoyable cultural journey through European cinema. I hope you will enjoy tonight and come back many times over the next 10 days for the more than 39 feature films and 12 short films that we show these days.
I now leave the floor to my friend and colleague, Ambassador of Italy Massimo Marotti, as Italy is representing the Presidency of the European Union in Lebanon these six months and therefore opens the festival with an Italian movie.