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Pascale Seigneurie Wins 2022 Khayrallah Prize

The Khayrallah Center is pleased to announce that the 2022 Khayrallah Prize was awarded to Pascale Seigneurie for her film, Roadblock, directed by Dahlia Nemlich and produced by Marine Vaillant. The Honorable Mention goes to Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch for their book, The Good Arabs. Pascale Seigneurie will receive a $10,000 monetary award for her groundbreaking work. Eli Tareq will receive a $1,000 monetary award for their impressive publication. 

In its seventh year now, the Khayrallah Prize is an annual award given by the Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies based at North Carolina State University. The Khayrallah Prize identifies, awards and publicly honors those whose original artistic productions and projects focus on any aspect of life in Lebanon, or among Lebanese immigrants, whether in the past or present.

Winner: Pascale Seigneurie

In a year when we received a large number of competitive applications, the Khayrallah Prize selection committee was deeply impressed by the power of Pascale Seignurie’s film, Roadblock, in capturing the tensions that not only suffuse the daily lives of the Lebanese, but also the complex relations between Lebanon and its diaspora. She was able to do so with an exquisite interplay between humorous and fraught moments, with a script that linguistically and artistically captures large issues and subtle nuances, and cinematography and acting that is nothing short of superb. The dialogue and images mix hope and dignity with absurdities, fear and despair in a breathtaking and thought-provoking manner. It represents true excellence and the incredible talent that Lebanon produces.

Upon receiving news of the award, Pascale wrote: “Thank you to the Khayrallah Center and North Carolina University for choosing Roadblock as the winner of the 2022 Khayrallah Art Prize. I am honored that this film was considered a worthy representation of the Lebanese diaspora since the diaspora experience is a central theme (maybe even an obsession!) in my work and life. This film was shot in the middle of a revolution, edited in the middle of a collapsing economy, and released in the middle of a pandemic. We worked with a skeleton crew and little to no budget, but with so much heart. Thank you so much for rewarding our team’s efforts. To me, the Khayrallah Art Prize is a validation of risk-taking. Not only the risk of making Roadblock in such challenging circumstances but also the risk of pursuing the arts in the first place.

For anyone who does not come from wealth, a life in the arts is financially ill-advised. An irresponsible career choice, as I’m reminded at every family lunch when aunts, uncles, and Tétas ask how this acting thing is going. And up until now, most of my achievements have been met with a “مبروك! بس وين بتصرفيها؟”[Congratulations! Where are you going to spend it?]. The Khayrallah Prize is one of the few to offer a monetary reward in addition to the prestige; so for once, I can confidently answer: “”!!!بالمصرف” [At the Bank!!] And for that I’d like to warmly thank the selection committee. You have significantly reduced the number of concerned eyebrows and dramatic sighs I’ll be getting at the next few family lunches! Now if only you could do something about the pressure of finding a عريس [husband]”.

Watch the interview with Pascale Seigneurie and Dahlia Nemlich.

Pascale Seigneurie is a Lebanese-American actress, dancer, and screenwriter trained at the Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique in Paris and Fordham University in NYC. Her stage work includes performances with multicultural New York theater companies such as The Lark, Noor Theatre and Polybe+Seats. As a film actress, she played the lead role in Roads to Olympia, a feature-length sports drama directed by Ramazan Nanayev, as well as multiple award-winning shorts, three of which she also wrote: Abroad (2018 Santa Barbara Film Festival), Manara (2019 Venice Film Festival) and Roadblock (2022 FIFOG d’Argent Award). She is currently co-writing her first comedy series with Romy Coccia di Ferro, produced by Alta Rocca Films.

Honorable Mention: Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch

Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch’s poetry anthology, The Good Arabs, touched the Khayrallah Prize selection committee with its poignant lines, putting to paper the intersectionality between sweet nostalgia for Lebanon and the bitterness of knowing what can, and should be better. El Bechelany-Lynch’s poetry explores the liminality of the diasporic and queer Lebanese experiences, amplifying voices that are too often silenced by patriarchal orders and racist stereotypes. Their ability to bring Lebanon–from distant past and recent memory–to life is found in their writing that touches each of the five senses and pierces through the heart to remind the reader of the power and beauty in loving a place, even when it is so glaringly imperfect.

Upon receiving news of the award, Eli wrote: “It’s quite exciting to win a prize in general; when the prize is specifically Lebanese is especially special given I know the people who picked it understand the context. To be honored by my community for work that felt vulnerable to put out there — particularly because it sometimes critiques aspects of Lebanese and Arab community/culture that isn’t easy to talk about — gives that special feeling an added layer. For the work to be cared for and loved by other Lebanese people, in all its queer and transness, its scruffiness, its care and wonder, means a lot. I’m excited for more Lebanese folks and Arabs to become acquainted with my work and I really appreciate the opportunity that is afforded to me through winning this prize.”

Watch the interview Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch.

Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch is a writer living in Tio’tia:ke. Their work has appeared in The Best Canadian Poetry 2018 anthology, The New QuarterlyArc Poetry Magazine, and elsewhere. Their book, knot body (2020), published by Metatron Press, was shortlisted for the QWF Concordia First Book Award, and their second book, The Good Arabs, published by Metonymy Press in 2021, was granted the honorary mention for poetry by the Arab American Book Awards and won the Grand Prix du Livre de Montréal. Their translation of Gabrielle Boulianne-Tremblay’s La fille d’elle-même from the French is forthcoming Spring 2023. With co-editor Samia Marshy, they are editing El Ghourabaa, an anthology of weird and experimental queer and trans writing by Arab and Arabophone writers, forthcoming Spring 2024. They are also an acquisitions editor at Metonymy Press.