Forget Hollywood stars. Nine unknown individuals, with no prior acting experience, were given the chance to perform in the caustic, comic and offbeat film Ok, Enough, Goodbye, produced by Rania Attieh from Tripoli, and Daniel Garcia from Texas, USA.
The 95 minute-screening evolves around a 40-year-old single man from Tripoli, Daniel Arzruni, who's still dependent on his mother.
One evening, after coming home from work, the pastry-shop owner is astounded to find she has left Tripoli however, having decided she wants her son to be independent.
Food scenes abound throughout the movie, as the producers focus on shots of the actor bingeing on pastries into his humble-looking shop.
Two other scenes (each more than a minute-long) focus on Arzruni eating alone, and chewing gum with his mouth wide open.
When asked why the producer focused on gross-looking food scenes, film producer Attieh explained that the Lebanese culture is based around food.
"In Tripoli there's no entertainment but food, and eating a lot is just part of it; we had to portray ‘the eager to eat scenes' that are in the movie," Attieh said.
Attieh told tabloid! that she had discovered David Arzuni while dining out with mutual friends. "I kept watching him as he ate, and felt he was interesting. I asked him if he wanted play the leading actor in my new movie, and he instantly agreed."
What's interesting about the cast is that most, if not all the characters, (apart from Arzuni) and an Ethiopian house-maid, were Attieh's actual relatives. "My grandmother played Dani's mother, my father played a sleazy house-maid contractor, and my sister - a supermarket lady."
Finding an Ethiopian housemaid to fit one of roles, was the director's biggest challenge. "Surprisingly, no one agreed to lend us their house-maid," Attieh said, chuckling. "We had to literally hire a house-maid from a contracting company!"
Many of the scenes are very funny, especially the ones showing the conversations between Arzuni and his mother. Another entertaining scene is when Arzuni hooks up with a "not so good-looking" prostitute he meets randomly. His reaction clearly amused the audience.
It was important for Attieh to produce a film about Tripoli, which is where she was born and raised. "There are no films made in Tripoli. That's why I persisted in portraying the little things I've learnt from people I know. A lot of the scenes were natural. For instance it was Dani's idea to shoot the film in Tripoli's oldest pastry shop."
The shop belongs to a grumpy 80-year-old man who sells stale French pastries. "Most of the people in Tripoli prefer Lebanese sweets, so hardly anyone goes into the shop. They are simply disinterested in foreign pastries, which is exactly what we showed in the movie," said Attieh.
Garcia described his film as "a collection of memories and impressions behind a man's life". He said: "We followed a realist approach using a mix of narrative and documentary aesthetics."
Explaining the necessity of including the role played by the Ethiopian housemaid, both producers said they felt it was important to touch on the topic of mistreatment of house-maids in Lebanon.
"The way people acquire the house-maid, lock her up at home and, at times, beat her up, is a common scenario in Lebanon. In addition, the house-maid represented the loneliness of a man living in Tripoli," said Attieh.
Even though it's his first attempt at acting, Ok, Enough, Goodbye has inspired Daniel Arzruni to act again if he's given the chance.
Review: Ok, Enough, Goodbye
Some parts of the movie were slow. One scene, for example, focussed on a man eating, with food running down his face for more than a minute. It wasn't exactly a pretty sight, and was unnecessarily long.
Although you may find some of the realistic scenes funny, the cursing needs to toned down.