Roland Eid presents
Charbel, The Movie
“The life of Saint Charbel on big screen as you have never seen it before!”
Many times, Roland Eid has felt Saint Charbel reach out to touch his soul and change his course of life. In December 2007, Roland decided to commemorate the life of the sacred Lebanese Saint in a movie production whose ultimate purpose is to spread the chronicle of his life and miracles across the globe. All profitable yields from this production are destined to charitable projects.
[PHOTO] Roland Eid, Charbel, The Movie Producer with son Charbel.
Time Out Beirut Magazine Exclusive Interview
with Roland Eid
by Karl Baz
on March 2009
Driven by nothing short of the love for St. Charbel, Roland Eid has taken it upon himself to faithfully reproduce the life of this Lebanese saint onto the silver screen, in the largest-budget movie in Lebanese history.
Sainthood isn’t the easiest of subjects to tackle…
This isn’t just a project, this is a promise I made to St. Charbel. My son, named Charbel, is now a year and a half old, and actually plays baby Charbel in the movie. When my wife had pregnancy complications I asked for his help, and this is fulfilling my promise.
I hear you’ve launched a large campaign some time ago, why so far in advance?
I wanted people to anticipate it. We were still working on the script, and I launched a fifty thousand dollar advertising campaign. A lot of people have known about it for over a year, and a lot of people have waited for it. You have no idea how many people and magazines have asked consistently over this past year: is it out yet?
Why so far in advance though?
I knew that if the idea was leaked someone else would make the movie, and the problem with that is that they’d make it commercial. They’d write a cheap script and just use the name to sell their movie, and I wanted to nip that at the bud. And sure enough I soon found out that two other guys were working on the idea, and Charbel is important to me, more important than you can imagine, on a personal level.
And you couldn’t stand to see it commercialized…
The last thing I want is some low budget film to come out and commercialize his name. A bunch of guys could have gotten together, spent a hundred grand on actors and cotton beards and called it a movie.
But people are typically delicate with religious matters…
I know what they would’nt have done. They would’nt have tarnished his name, completely. So I took my loss, I knew the campaign was money to the garbage, but I got what I wanted and they backed off completely. And then we set to work on the script.
I’m sure it was difficult to find the right people for that…
To say the least. We searched long and hard for the person closest to St. Charbel’s spirituality, and we found that in the person of Father Youhanna Khawand. This hermit is the only person legally approved for translating Siriac to Arabic to Hebrew… the guy knows ten languages, he’s unbelievable. He lives the same life that St. Charbel did, and was more than happy to help.
In what capacity?
He oversaw the whole script; you can’t have a normal person write this script. St. Charbel was a man of very few words, and every word he ever uttered meant a lot, and that had to apply to the script. Men like you or I could not have written it. Father Khawand and Mounir Maasri spent close to 200 hours, every single day, until they were satisfied with the script. I wasn’t very involved in the casting; more with the budget.
The very significant budget…
I knew it would take a huge budget, I knew I wouldn’t earn back even half of my investment. As far as budgets go, this is the largest in the history of Lebanese film.
Can I ask how large?
Over a million dollars. I didn’t care, I wanted to get the message out. I wanted people to see how down to earth St. Charbel was, compare the things we care about and the things he cared about. I might be a long way from sainthood, and I don’t say this with pride, but at the same time if I can’t turn to God, a million other people could. And perhaps this film’s message will help them do what I couldn’t.
Will the message translate in other countries?
St. Charbel is famous in Latin America as well. When I flew down there for vacations, I found out that Mexicans revere St. Charbel. There are people there who might want to know more about him; they believe in him, and he still perform miracles even there. There is a priest here who documents St. Charbel’s miracles, and he gets his information from all over the world. Up till this day, every day, he documents two or three miracles a day. And that’s how the world knows him, and they have no idea how difficult his life was or how much he has been through. This is an important point; forget about becoming a saint yourself, simply comparing your life to his, it clashes so strongly it’ll shock you. I’m telling you, St. Charbel is very dear to me.
You mentioned that, may I ask why?
You might laugh if I tell you. You may have heard of Nohad El Shami (famous for waking up cured, after a neck surgery performed while she slept) he came to her and told her that he’ll perform the surgery she needed – you have to see her! Go to her house on the 21st of any month and see her plainly, come back on the 22nd to see the scars appear and bleed, and then again on the 23rd to see her cuts completely healed. She’s the only still living St. Charbel miracle; but don’t listen to me, just go up and see the lady herself.
And you had a similar personal experience?
A lot has happened between St. Charbel and myself, but I won’t sit and list them. But my relationship with him isn’t exactly pleasant; I once was about to make a mistake, one that he showed would have ruined my family life, and he appeared to me. I mean, I laugh at people who talk about these appearances, and some I believe. He never appeared to me, at least not with good news. When he did appear he scolded me, and his words were so powerful you feel wrapped in a massive magnetic field. So I was sitting there asking him to talk to me, and he wouldn’t. Instead he cracked my TV screen, that’s how mad he was. You can’t screw around with this saint, you can’t play with him or fool him, or negociate with him.
Enjoy Charbel, The Movie!