After the war erupted in 1975, the young Randa Chahal returned to Lebanon on several occasions, after studying at the prestigious Louis Lumière school in Paris. Camera in hand, she tirelessly documented the war and the deserted streets of Beirut combining fearless engagement with political criticism.
Step by Step describes the ramifications of the civil war in Lebanon and Our Reckless Wars is a crude story about the involvement of her family during the civil war, a work that Jean Luc Godard cites in his Histoire(s) du Cinéma.
As with other filmmakers of her generation, the civil war imposed the documentary format on Randa Chahal Sabbag. However, she was also a film aficionado and an outstanding storyteller nonetheless, as is evident in her works of fiction. Dealing with the absurdity of a civil war as well as unique stories of characters that are profoundly human, her fiction films are tinted with fierce humor and an incredible sense of freedom.
In 1992, she directed her first feature Sand Screens, followed by the stinging Civilized People in 2000 and The Kite in 2003, that won her the Grand Jury Prize (Silver Lion) at the 2003 Venice International Film Festival and the medallion for Officer of the National Order of the Cedar.
Randa Chahal Sabbag will continue to work and film between Beirut and Paris, writing and developing many scripts and projects. These films where nothing but the beginning of the work of a filmmaker that left us too soon. In 2008, Olivia Snaije writes in the British newspaper The Guardian in homage to the recent passing of the filmmaker: “Chahal’s premature death leaves a void in the Middle Eastern world of film, where freedom of expression requires boundless courage and tenacity.”