Many intellectuals and artists have left Lebanon over the centuries. Each period of violence, each wave of repression by the then occupying power, each (civil) war was followed by a wave of emigration. Hence, the Lebanese arts developed not only in Lebanon itself – where Beirut is probably the most important cultural centre – but also in the countries where émigrés found a second home. Damascus and Cairo and, further away, Paris, London, New York, and Rio de Janeiro are thus also minor Lebanese cultural centres, especially for Lebanese literature and cinema.
In present day Lebanese literature, but also in Lebanese music, film or fine arts, the Civil War (1975-1990) and its aftermath are recurrent themes. Many artists want to remember and document these events and their aftermath, or to fight against the political and religious divisions that led to the war. Moreover, years of violence and destruction left the Lebanese people with a deep hunger for beauty, creativity and artistic ways of expression. From the 1990s, Lebanon has witnessed a wave of artistic expression, but also the founding of various festivals such as the Salon du Livre, the Beirut International Film Festival, or al-Bustan (music) Festival
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