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

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