Journals

Rebirth: Festival of Freedom in Benghazi, Libya

“After traveling through the East, I now see Libya with different eyes. It’s as if a volcano of artistic expression erupted in front of me. And I’ll tell you, it’s ripe for the most rockin’ music festival on the Mediterranean.”
-Matthew Millan

Rebirth: 17 of February Music Festival is an exciting new initiative: the first annual music festival in a liberated Libya, and soon to be the most epic music event in North Africa and the Middle East. It will be held on the one year anniversary of the uprising, and will run for three days (Feb.17th, 18th, 19th, 2012). It is the brainchild of filmmaker and music lover Matthew Millan, who traveled to the East of the Libya in April and May of this year to Libya to document the uprising. Within hours of entering into the country from Egypt, he became horrified at the level of devastation and neglect wrought upon the East of Libya by the Gaddafi regime. From the forgotten ruins near Shahhat to the half-erected buildings of Bayda, the East appeared to be remnants of an abandoned civilization. Yet amidst the dust of war, he soon discovered something extraordinary being born out of the spirit of Libyan people. From the sophisticated art of Bayda to the thriving music scene in Benghazi, a nuclear explosion of the arts had occurred, covering its plume throughout the East of the North African country. And while exploring the ruins of the Katiba the sprawling fortress that dominates the center of Benghazi, it occurred to him that a music and arts festival would be the perfect foil to highlight this blast of creativity, and in one of the most beautiful regions he has ever seen.

The idea was borne not only out of a strong desire to highlight to the rest of the world the rebirthing of the Libyan cultural identity amidst the chaos, but to raise money to help rebuild the decaying infrastructures that plague Libya. In September of 2011, Matthew Millan returned to Libya to secure the location for the festival, and to take care of the local logistics. The difficult process of bringing the festival to life in a war ravaged country will then be made into a feature length documentary, a singular event that encapsulates the Libyan Phoenix rising out of the ashes of the old regime.

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‘We Win or We Die’ Movie Premiere and Talk

On August 10th, 2011, filmmaker Matthew Millan will give a talk about his travels through war-torn Libya, and the extraordinary events he witnessed while there.

From the eastern city of Tobruk to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, Mr. Millan journeyed into the heart of a nebula coalescing from the dust of war…and into a nation reborn. Amidst the brutality and devastation wrought under 42 years of Gaddafi’s rule, a civil society par excellence is emerging from the ashes. And for the first time in their lives, the eastern Libyans feel a strong sense of citizenship, finding themselves gravitating toward certain roles, roles they would never consider five months before. Medical students turned news anchors. Civil engineers turned newspaper editors. And taxi drivers turned soldiers. Neighborhoods have banded together to pick up the pieces of a shattered infrastructure. Children sweep the streets after the witching hour, alongside men who paint the roadside curbs. Looting is non-existent, and the crime rate has dropped by a factor of 20… and this in the absence of strong government.

To begin the talk, Mr. Millan will first walk you through the emerging nation in the midst the war, and the devastation of the Libyan infrastructure before showing the premiere of ‘We Win or We Die’, a 30 minute documentary on the first 4 days of the uprising. At the end of the talk, he will also show teasers to his upcoming feature length film, entitled ‘West of Tobruk’, which due out in 2012. Join Mr. Millan on August 10th at the Venice Arts Gallery, and see the emerging face of Libya.

Reserve a seat now at


Image from Libya

Libya Destruction Photos by Matt Millan 180 Films


Destruction in Bengazi Image

Destruction in Bengazi - Air strikes take out tanks in Libya. Photos by Matt Millan 180 Films


Libya 2011

After the air strikes, one man ponders the total destruction in Libya. Photo by Matt Millan 180 Films


Libya 2011 – Living in a war zone.

Libya 2011-Living in a war zone.  Photos by Matt Millan 180 Films


Destruction in LIbya

Destruction in Bengazi. Photos by Matt Millan 180 Films