To the best of my recollection, Libyan president Moammar Gadhafi was like the Saddam Hussein of the mid-'80s: a Middle Eastern leader who irritated the American president and most of the Western world, got sanctions imposed against him, and dabbled in terrorism. Then you stopped hearing about him for a while. In the last few years, Libya -- still under Gadhafi's leadership, as it has been since 1969 -- has made what seems to be a genuine effort to rejoin the world community by playing nice and making amends. And what's the best way to show you're a sane, reasonable leader, and not a crackpot dictator? Make a movie!

Variety reports that Gadhafi is spending $50 million, apparently of his own money, to fund a movie about the Italian occupation of Libya that lasted from 1911-1943. During this time, tens of thousands of Libyans were kept in concentration camps, and thousands died. The film will be in English and will be called Years of Torment (or Dhulm in Arabic). The director is a Syrian named Najdat Anzour, who's already well known in the Arab world for his popular controversial anti-terrorism TV shows. (IMDb doesn't list him, but here's his Wikipedia page.)

One interesting tidbit from the Variety article: The press conference announcing the film was held in Rome, and journalists were flown in from around the world to cover it, all on Gadhafi's dime. Total cost of the event: $400,000. I'm thinking Gadhafi's going to fit right in. He's already wasting money like an old Hollywood pro!

If you're curious, about Libyan cinema, there isn't a lot of it. Years of Torment will be the first movie to come out of that country since 1981's The Lion of the Desert-- which dealt with the same subject matter and was also paid for by Gadhafi. I guess it's too much to ask for him to make a light romantic comedy, at least at this point. Maybe once he's more comfortable being part of the world community again.
categories Cinematical