Despite being one of Asia’s smallest countries, Lebanon is known to have rich culture and history. Its capital city Beirut is often referred to as the “Paris of the Middle East,” and is home to historic sights and landmarks where different civilizations thrived for thousands of years.
Below are some of the most popular films that were filmed in the West Asian country. We’re listing down both old and new ones, from epic dramas like 1977’s The Message (which tells the story of prophet Muhammad) to award-winning documentaries like 500 Years Later.
We’ll talk briefly about each film’s story and where the shooting took place. Many of these are international films (some were released in international film festivals like Sundance) and are available in different languages, but have English translations as well.
Movies Filmed in Lebanon
24 Hours to Kill (1965)
Released in 1965, this is a British/German drama directed by Peter Bezencenet and stars American actors Lex Barker (who is also known for his role as Tarzan of the Apes) and Mickey Rooney.
The film, which tells the story of an airplane crew forced to spend 24 hours in Beirut after they experience engine trouble while they were en route to Athens, was filmed in Lebanon. Some of the main locations include Beirut, Byblos, Baalbeck, and Casio Du Liban.
1h 34min | Not rated
Agent 505: Death Trap In Beirut (1966)
Also titled Agent 505 – Todesfalle Beirut and From Beirut with Love, this 1966 movie tells the story of an Interpol agent’s (Agent 505) battle with a mysterious, four-fingered criminal called “The Sheik.”
Directed by Manfred Kohler and stars Frederick Stafford, this movie has been referred to as an example of a genre of movies derived from the James Bond spy movies.
Some of the Lebanon locations include Beirut, the Roman ruins of Baalbeck, city views from Jounieh, and views from Ramlet al-Baida.
1h 33min | Not rated
Mafia Junction (1973)
Also known as “Super Bitch,” this crime/thriller “Poliziottesco” genre film directed by Massimo Dallamano is about a woman using her body to deceive men in order to get what she wants.
This film was shot in a number of locations, including Baalbek and Beirut in Lebanon. Other scenes took place in London and in New York City.
1h 35min | R
This one’s a miniseries released in 2010, and tells the story of the Venezuelan terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, also known as Carlos the Jackal, whose attacks started in 1973 (and was arrested in 1994).
The film is directed by Olivier Assayas and stars Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez. The filming locations took place in different countries, including Lebanon. Others include Austria, France, Germany, England, and Sudan.
Miniseries | Not rated
In the Last Days of the City (2016)
Also titled Akher Ayyam el-Madinah, this film by director Tamer El Said premiered at over 120 film festivals and was well-reviewed by critics.
The film tells the story of Khalid, a documentary filmmaker living in Cairo who is having difficulty finishing his film. To help, his friends send him video footage from different cities they live in: (Beirut, Baghdad, and Berlin, three filming locations in addition to Cairo.
1h 58min | Not rated
Don’t Tell Me the Boy Was Mad (2015)
This one’s a French drama (also called Une histoire de fou), directed by Robert Guediguian and stars Simon Abkarian. It tells the true story of Jose Antonio Gurriaran, a Spanish journalist who was semi-paralyzed after a bomb attack in Madrid.
The filming took place in three different countries: Armenia, France, and Lebanon. The film, which was praised by critics all over the world, covers the Armenian genocide and the horrors it would leave in the decades that followed.
2h 14min | Not rated
Circumstance (or En secret) is a French, Iranian, and American drama directed by Maryam Keshavarz and stars Nikohl Boosheri. It explores the Iranian youth culture and homosexuality in modern Iran.
The film is set in Iran and was shot in Lebanon. According to Boosheri, Lebanon was picked as the filming location because they would not have the freedom to do what they wanted in Iran, and Beirut had a “Middle Eastern feeling” and “essence.”
The film won numerous awards like the Audience Award at Sundance and Best Director, Best Actress, and Audience Favorite at the Noor Iranian Film Festival.
Embassy, released in 1972, is a spy thriller based on a novel by Stephen Coulter. The film is directed by Gordon Hessler and stars Richard Roundtree (also well-known for his role as Shaft).
The film tells the story of a Russian spy who penetrates the United States embassy in Beirut. This thriller is set in Beirut, where it was also shot.
1h 30min | Not rated
Directed by Nadine Labaki and stars Syrian refugee child actor Zain Al Rafeea, Capernaum is a 2018 Lebanese film that became the highest-grossing Arabic and Middle-Eastern film of all time.
This critically-acclaimed film follows the story of Zain, a 12-year-old living in Beirut slums. Other filming locations in Lebanon include Cola, Roumieh Prison, Beirut Luna Park, and the Souk Al Ahad street market.
Other honors it has received include an Academy Award nomination and won the Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival in 2018.
2h 6min | R
South of the Clouds (1950)
This one’s a documentary film released in 1950, directed by William James and produced by the Protestant Film Commission.
The film, which was shot on the Beirut College for Women, shows the progress by the Christian missionary education in the Near East (Western Asia, Turkey, Egypt). The story revolves around a Muslim girl Najla, who arrives at the school from her Aristocratic Muslim household in Damascus.
500 Years Later (2005)
This one’s another documentary film, directed by Owen ‘Alik Shahadah. It tells the story of the African diaspora and the impact of slavery throughout history, touching on issues like poverty, AIDS, crime, and education.
This film was praised by critics and won a number of awards like the UNESCO “Breaking the Chains” award, Best Documentary at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, and the Best International Documentary at the Harlem International Film Festival.
One of the many filming locations is Lebanon. Scenes were also shot in countries like England, France, USA, Barbados, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Egypt.
Spy Game (2011)
Starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt, Spy Game is an action/thriller film directed by Tony Scott. The film tells the story of how almost-retired CIA operative Nathan Muir (Redford) learns that his protege Tom Bishop (Pitt) has been arrested for espionage in China. Muir then finds a way to free his mentee.
The film has many shooting locations, including Beirut, Lebanon. Others include Budapest and Tököl, Hungary; Vancouver, Canada; Ouarzazate, Morocco; and Hong Kong, China.
2h 6min | R
The Insult (2017)
The Insult, a film released in 2017, was nominated for the foreign-language film in the Academy Awards. It’s directed by Ziad Doueiri and stars Adel Karam and Kamel El Basha.
The film tells the story of Tony, a Lebanese Christian mechanic, and Yasser, a Palestinian foreman, who end up in court after an escalated heated exchange.
Some of the Lebanon locations include the Fassouh District in Beirut and Damour, Mount Lebanon Governorate.
1h 53min | R
The Message (1977)
Also known as Mohammad, Messenger of God is an epic drama directed by Moustapha Akkad. The film tells the life of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It stars Anthony Quinn and Irene Papas.
Production took place in different countries, including Lebanon. Other filming locations include Libya, Morocco, Lebanon, Syria, and the United Kingdom. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score (created by French composer Maurice Jarre) in 1977.
2h 57min | PG
Halal Love (2015)
Also called Halal Love (and Sex), this film from 2015 is written and directed by Lebanon-born Assad Fouladkar and was introduced at the Dubai International Film Festival and at Sundance Film Festival.
Shot in Beirut, the film tells four different stories that intertwine—about Muslim men and women to find ways to satisfy their desires while still adhering to religious rules.
1h 34min | Not rated
Also titled The Eyes, this 1968 film directed and written by Ramanand Sagar stars Mala Sinha and Dharmendra.
The story revolves around how newly independent India faces terrorist attacks, and how a group of citizens does something to stop it.
Most of the filming locations are in India (mostly in Mumbai), but it also has scenes in Beirut, Lebanon.
2h 52min | Not rated
Released in 2020, Notturno is a documentary film directed by Gianfranco Rosi. The film follows the stories of people who want to start over, after being in war zones in the Middle East.
The film was shot in four locations in a span of three years: Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Kurdistan. It premiered at the 77th Venice International Film Festival and was released in the US via virtual cinema in January 2021.
1h 40min | TV Mature Audience