Darine Hamze

Darine Hamze is a serious professional Lebanese movie star famous in the Middle East for taking on diverse, daring and complex roles in cinema. She is an MA graduate in Art and Media Practice from London’s University of Westminster- UK, and a BA in Drama (Theatre Acting and Directing) from The Institute of Fine Arts- Lebanese University. Darine was born in the mid of the civil war in Beirut and sent to a private boarding school Sabis- ISC in London (England) during the war. Darine is one of her generation’s most talented professionals backed up with education and grace; facing controversy and harshness from the other side with a calm professional reaction always in the face of fanaticism or some Arabic conservatives, as well as accepting the other’s point of view. She is an actress with something to say and is seen as a pillar of woman’s rights and the freedom of speech. Credited as one of the best Arab actresses for taking on challenging and complex roles in different dialects and languages throughout the region, her film career began in 2009 starring in a big Iranian acclaimed feature film The Book of Law- Ketabe Ghanoon, co-starring legendary Iranian movie star Parviz Parastui and directed by Maziar Miri, in which Darine studied intensive Persian dialect for it. The film had some controversy at first for criticizing the way Islam was being practiced erroneously in certain societies in Iran but was later on accepted as a smart amusing self-critiquing social romantic comedy and was a big hit and has since become a cult- underground film. Darine’s academic theatrical background and love of her craft pushes her into selecting, as much as potentially available, such extreme, emotionally intelligent characters with something more to say. Her love of transformation for each role defied her ambitious acting abilities in reincarnating roles that are dissimilar in form, context and even language. She has a compelling range of characters she has played over the years in the region between Iranian and Lebanese cinema with languages varying between Arabic, Persian, French and English; as well as Arabic TV Series in Lebanese, Egyptian and Syrian dialects. Her next unique role was in 2011’s French/ Lebanese controversial film Beirut Hotel opposite French actor Charles Berling, directed by Danielle Arbid, which made a huge controversy because of its political sub-text and explicit scenes. Darine took on the challenge this time to portray (Zoha) a wild romantic alternative singer that falls in love with a French spy. Darine practiced her French and even took singing classes which made the film’s soundtrack, with her voice, a hit. But the film was banned in Lebanon due to suggestive scenes depicting the Lebanese government as covering up some kind of information regarding the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Harriri. However, the film aired in France and Germany on Arte, and Darine was bombarded by opposing opinions for playing such a daring role. She was praised by the liberal audiences and out shun by conformists in a number of Arab societies, and she was banned by a local Islamic television, for playing the French audacious role while having being screened in their television series where she played a veiled woman (and consequently got replaced by another actress in their series’ second season). In reply to the replacement the elegant actress stated calmly, that she is “a professional actress whom has the right to play any character life can encompass, whether certain ideologies accept these characters or not, emphasizing that cinema is a reflection of real life and a mirror of society with all its hidden or public issues, characters, colors, shapes and sizes, and that it is part of her job to be able to bring all sorts of characters, from all aspects of society, to life. Ending the debate by saying that she accepts their decision and respects their religion’s rules and taboos because she believes in freedom of speech and having different opinions; likewise having freedom to choose any role to play as well”. When asked if she regrets playing this character after losing a part of her audience, and facing harsh judgment and criticism, she explained that “an actor’s job is to play all kinds of characters in the best way possible, be them devils or saints and whether loved or hated in society, and to be judged on her acting ability alone. That she as an actress is neither the veiled Muslim woman nor the liberated audacious singer, but an agnostic actress in love with her craft, and that the region’s society will eventually one day understand what artistic efforts she had performed playing such opposite characters faultlessly; and how in other artistically educated and advanced countries, she would have been sensibly praised for such character built acting abilities of opposing nature”. In 2016 Darine first came to the attention of the American audiences with her performance in the German/ Lebanese film Halal Love (and sex), directed by Assad Fouladkar and produced by Razor Films, which screened at the US film festivals Sundance and The Hamptons as well as many other international film festivals and screened the Golden Globes HFPA nominations. She depicted the dreamy role of (Loubna), a Muslim divorced woman trying to live her love live and desires without breaking any of her religions rules, and in it she took on the taboo topic of the Islamic pleasure marriage (which is a short-term contract). As Darine accepted an Award for it in Japan (Fukuoka International Film Festival 2016) she confirmed that she “looks for roles that challenge her psychologically and mentally, as well as fill her human emotions to stimulate evolution, because film is also a window into other people’s worlds, a small peak into the other’s point of view, which can help wake up society’s humanity and lend a hand in bring humans together. And that she hopes that with every character she plays she brings a voice to those hidden closed windows that can help unite races, religions and cultures through the common grounds of art”. She continues taking on challenging, politically unaccepted, out of the box roles in the region. Her new 2017 film role in NUTS, premiering in Dubai international Film Festival, will be (Lanna) a Lebanese poker addict rebel that dives into the risky underground world of gambling in Lebanon. Her character conveys the kind of unstable risky life one encounters while living in the Middle East.

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