Hillary and Chelsea Clinton’s HiddenLight Productions Boards Feature Documentary ‘In The Shadow of Beirut’ (EXCLUSIVE)
Hilary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton’s HiddenLight Productions is co-producing a new feature documentary with the team behind Sundance 2019 title “Gaza.”
“In the Shadow of Beirut” is a cinematic portrait of modern-day Lebanon as seen through the eyes of four families living in the impoverished Sabra and Shatila neighbourhoods of the city, the scene of an infamous massacre in 1982.
The film will be executive produced by Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton and Siobhan Sinnerton for HiddenLight.
The doc is filmed over four years with unique access to the families within these largely restricted areas and co-directed by Stephen Gerard Kelly, in his debut, and Garry Keane (“Gaza,” 2019). Kelly built up his relationship with the families over a six-year period.
The film follows its protagonists through the pandemic and the deteriorating economic crisis engulfing the country. However, the struggles of the film’s central protagonists began long before the deadly 2020 port explosion that rocked Beirut.
Lead producer is Belfast-based Cyprus Avenue Films (“Gaza,” “Bobby Sands: 66 Days”). Production partners include Beirut’s Abbout Productions (“Costa Brava, Lebanon”), Republic of Ireland-based Real Films (“Gaza”) and Berlin-based Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion (“The Cleaners”). Co-producers include Myriam Sassine, Christian Beetz and Alison Toomey.
Sinnerton, senior VP of unscripted at HiddenLight Productions, said: “’In the Shadow of Beirut’ is a powerful story of resilience and hope in the face of hardship and uncertainty. It has been many years in the making and we are incredibly proud to be helping to bring this important film to the screen.
Commenting on securing the project for production, Cyprus Avenue Films’ founder Brendan J Byrne said: “Irish director Stephen Gerard Kelly watched our film ‘Gaza’ in a cinema in Beirut at the end of 2019. At the time he had been following his characters for two years. As soon as I saw the material, I knew I had to get involved and decided to partner Stephen and his remarkable material with a strong team, including co-director Garry Keane (‘Gaza’). Together, they shot additional material and helped steer the film in the editing room alongside experienced editor, Iseult Howlett. I couldn’t be happier with the end result.”
Kelly added: “Spending six years with people in Sabra and Shatila has been enriching and humbling. Over 30,000 people live in an urban slum of one square kilometre and — despite its reputation for paramilitary groups, criminal activity and drugs — most people are hardworking, honest and genuine. Among these narrow, dark alleys, people are constantly forced to make incredibly tough decisions created by decades of political corruption and manipulative sectarianism. But, against all these odds, there is still hope, and this film aims to elevate that hope.”
“In the Shadow of Beirut” is nearing completion and is expected to premiere at a major international film festival before the end of 2022.
Formed in 2020, HiddenLight has focused on creating premium documentary, and unscripted and scripted entertainment for TV, film and digital. The outfit was founded by the Clintons along with Sam Branson. Its first project was the YouTube Originals series “If I Could Tell You Just One Thing,” which aired in the summer of 2021. Apple TV+ series “Gutsy Women,” based on the Clintons’ best-selling book “The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience,” will soon launch.
The company recently announced “In Her Hands,” directed by Tamana Ayazi and Oscar nominee Marcel Mettelsiefen, which receives its world premiere at TIFF later this month. The film focuses on Afghan politician Zarifa Ghafari, who became, at the age of 26, the youngest woman to serve as a mayor of an Afghan city. The film follows Ghafari in the months leading up to the Taliban takeover in 2021. Netflix will release the film globally on Nov. 16.
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