About the film
The dispute that sets “The Insult” in motion is a petty thing: Tony Hanna (Adel Karam), a Christian garage owner with a pregnant wife, Shirine (Rita Hayek), gets all up in the face of Yasser Salameh (Kamel El Basha), a Palestinian Muslim refugee running a construction crew on the streets of Beirut. The conflict starts when an improperly installed gutter pipe on Tony’s balcony has splashed onto Yasser, who demands that the man fix it pronto.
Expletives fly; glares are exchanged. And so the plot boils over.
An infuriated Yasser punches the offender, breaking two of his ribs. Lawyers are called in: the established Wajdi Wehbe (Camille Salameh) for Tony; the young, inexperienced Nadine (Diamand Bou Abboud) for Yasser.
It should be easy for all of this to die down — for tempers to cool and for both men to get on with their lives. Instead, they dig in their heels as the squabble escalates, spiraling out of their control and turning into a national crisis.
Kamel El Basha is outstanding and his performance won him the award for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival, and rightly so. He has quite the history, having been incarcerated by the Israelis as a youthful activist, and later serving as artistic director of the Palestinian National Theatre, in Jerusalem.
Widely heralded at the Venice, Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals, Doueiri’s gripping and revealing film is reminiscent of such masterful socio-political dramas as 'A Separation' and 'Incendies, daring to lay bare the divisions within contemporary society. Expertly depicting the shifting conflicts that take place within homes, neighbourhoods and in the courtroom, this thrilling and superbly performed moral fable serves as both a smart and thought-provoking piece of entertainment, and a deeply affecting plea for empathy and conciliation.
Arabic with English Subtitles
What the critics say
“Undeniably exhilarating! A fascinating and honest assessment of the never-ending conflict between decency and cruelty that rages in every nation, neighbourhood and heart." A.O Scott, THE NEW YORK TIMES
“Provocative and inclusive. A tense courtroom drama that seems certain to open the eyes of viewers to some of the Middle East’s most intractable situations. Superbly acted by all concerned. Anyone interested in political cinema should rush to see this fine movie.” David Stratton, THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN
"A must-see. Ziad Doueiri’s legal thriller fairly crackles with timely provocations. The film boils down centuries of Middle Eastern conflict into one reckless statement – and lets the sparks fly. The excitement is palpable, and Karam and El Basha give the kind of performances that keep you riveted." Peter Travers, ROLLING STONE
"Gripping entertainment, passionate and humane." Alan Scherstuhl, THE VILLAGE VOICE
“Potent. Doesn’t depend on a knowledge of Lebanon’s history or its politics. What matters is the film’s success in distilling the tribal grudges that have fuelled the wars in the Middle East for the past century into the characters. A film that triumphantly unites the political and the personal by crystallising their connection in two great performances." Sandra Hall, THE SUNDAY AGE
"Electrifyingly brilliant! The conflict is so personal, visceral and universally recognisable; it could take place in Mississippi, Beijing or Bogota. A terrific accomplishment on every front." Godfrey Cheshire, ROGEREBERT.COM
2018 ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE | Best Foreign Language
WINNER; 2018 SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL | Audience Award (Best Film)
WINNER; 2018 AFI FESTIVAL | Audience Award (Best Film)
WINNER; 2017 VENICE INTL. FILM FESTIVAL | Silver Lion (Best Actor)