Lebanese journalist and filmmaker Samia Badih is embarking on a journey with her first feature documentary “Rasheed.” The film tells the story of her late uncle Rasheed Broum who was killed in an airstrike during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. With a master’s in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Maryland and a BA in English Literature and Language from Beirut Arab University under her belt, Samia used her expertise to shed light on an emotional true story that impacts the lives of many while encountering new revelations along the way.
Arab Woman Mag had the pleasure of chatting with Samia about her new documentary.
What made you pursue journalism as a career?
Growing up, I was influenced by my eldest sister Lina who, at the time, worked as a reporter in Beirut. I remember seeing her byline in the paper and thinking what an important job she had. I wanted to write stories like she did, so I followed in her footsteps. I landed a Fulbright Award Scholarship and enrolled in the broadcast journalism program at the University of Maryland in the United States. During the program, I was introduced to documentary filmmaking and immediately fell in love with it. After receiving my Master’s degree, I moved back to the Middle East and got my first job as a reporter with Gulf News in Dubai. I worked there as a business and multimedia reporter for three years, which I loved because it allowed me to meet people from all walks of life – from celebrities and politicians to entrepreneurs and activists.
How did the death of your uncle change the dynamics in your family? What implications did it have?
My uncle’s tragic death has without a doubt heartbroken my mother, who hardly spoke of it. His death was like an open wound that no one dared to touch, especially that we live in a culture that tends to be silent when dealing with grief.
When did the idea for the documentary come about?
I was working as a reporter in Dubai when I started thinking about making a documentary about my uncle. You know, as a reporter, you’re always looking for a good story. I realized one day I didn’t need to look far. My uncle’s story was right under my nose, screaming at me to be told.
What motivated you to turn your uncle’s story into a feature film?
Rasheed tells the biography of my late uncle Rasheed Broum who was killed in an airstrike in Saida, Lebanon during the 1982 Israeli invasion. He died three years before I was born. Growing up, I didn’t know anything about him. And so as a journalist, it was only natural that I ask questions about him and try to find out who he was. In the beginning, I was motivated with my own personal interest but as I started to dig deeper, I realized that the story had a powerful theme, which, if told, could resonate with people around the world.
What are some of the challenges that faced you while making your movie and how did you overcome them?
The storytelling was the most challenging because I had to remove myself from the project as Rasheed’s niece and wear the director’s hat. That was tough at times, especially while interviewing family members.
What message are you hoping to convey to viewers with your movie?
Rasheed’s story is one of thousands of stories of loss and grief – as the outcome of war. By telling his story, the film pays tribute to all innocent lives that perished during the 1982 war and in the following years – in 1985, 1996 and 2006, while telling a fascinating biography. Another theme that surfaced from the film is that those who are left behind – who survive their dead; are also victims of war.
Left to right: Editor Ali Khalife, Director Samia Badih, DOP Ali Habib Shreim
What is one thing that you personally discovered while making the movie that you were not aware of before?
I found footage of my uncle that I didn’t know existed before. That was such an amazing discovery!
As our region is filled with social, emotional and meaningful stories, would you consider doing other future documentaries?
Of course. The number of stories that are worth telling in this part of the world is huge. At the moment, my focus is to finish the production of Rasheed and on screening it afterwards.
What are your future goals, would you take your movie globally?
I’d like to take this film to as many film festivals around the world as possible. On my wish list are the Toronto International Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival. My goal is for Rasheed’s story to be shared with as many people as possible.
Finally on a different note, what advice would you give young girls who are thinking of pursuing journalism/media as a career choice?
My advice is simple: Work hard. Get the education and skill-set needed. Learn, create and go the extra mile in everything that you do and you will get there.
For more on the documentary “Rasheed” check out the following link Facebook.com/RasheedTheFilm