NPR

In 'The Insult,' All Politics Is A Local Neighborhood Squabble

Ziad Doueiri's new Oscar-shortlisted film is about the religious and tribal divisions in contemporary Lebanon — and how a small altercation in Beirut can spiral out of control.
In The Insult, a minor argument between a Lebanese Christian named Toni (Adel Karam, left) and a Palestinian refugee named Yasser (Kamel El Basha) spirals out of control. Source: Courtesy of the Cohen Media Group

Can something as simple as saying "I'm sorry" stop a looming war in the Middle East?

That's the premise of a new film called The Insult — it's Lebanon's entry to the Oscars. In it, a neighborhood spat pushes the city of Beirut to the brink of chaos.

Filmmaker Ziad Doueiri says he was inspired by a real-life incident. He was watering his plants on the balcony of his home in Beirut, when the water spilled out onto a construction worker below.

"So I leaned on the balcony — I yelled at him, he yelled back, he says, 'You're a dog,'" Doueiri says. "And

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR2 min read
Robert Smith Pledges To Pay Off Student Loans For Morehouse College's Class of 2019
The billionaire founder of investment firm Vista Equity Partners made the surprise announcement in front of roughly 400 students while delivering the college's commencement address on Sunday.
NPR3 min read
'There's Something About Sweetie' — Something Irrepressibly Joyous
Sandhya Menon's followup to her hit young adult novel When Dimple Met Rishi follows a young woman with a big voice, a big personality — and to her family's dismay (though not her own), a big body.
NPR3 min read
'Red, White & Royal Blue' Reigns As Must-Read Romance
Casey McQuiston's tale of a British prince who falls for the son of the U.S. president (who's a woman, by the way) is a snappy, banter-packed rom-com that's also empowering and uplifting.