DIFF MEETS: Palestinian filmmaker Rashid Masharawi

Thu Sep 05,2013

Palestinian filmmaker Rashid Masharawi – a longtime DIFF regular – is taking his latest film Palestine Stereo to the Toronto Film Festival this week for its world premiere. The feature, which follows two brothers in Jenin on their quest to raise enough money to emigrate, was made using DIFF’s own Enjaaz funding programme. We spoke to Rashid shortly before he boarded a plane to Canada.

Congratulations on Palestine Stereo getting its world premiere in Toronto. How does having a screening there help offer visibility to a film like yours?
This is actually my third film in Toronto and I really like there. It’s a really big festival, but what’s good for directors and writers is that there’s a good public. The festival mixes with the city, so it’s ordinary people who come to see the films. This is great as you get the right reactions and emotions. It’s also a market for distribution. My last film Leila’s Birthday was in Toronto and went to maybe six or seven countries for distribution from there.

The film was made with support from DIFF’s Enjaaz post-production fund. How important was this for you?
Enjaaz was very good for me because it came during the process of financing when I found that I needed the money physically to finish the film. Without this money it wouldn’t have been possible. But it’s also very important to help you show others that you have partners like Dubai in order to help build up the financing of the film.

You’re something of a regular to DIFF. Which films have you brought over in the past?
I was over in 2009 with one of four documentary films I made about children working in the Arabic world. I made one in Baghdad, one in Cairo, one in Morocco and one in Palestine. In Dubai I showed the one in Baghdad. Last year I had a documentary called Land of the Story. I think in the second edition of the festival,before they had the competition even, I had a feature film called Waiting. In one of the sessions I was a jury president for the documentary section.

This year is the 10th anniversary of DIFF. You may have been making films for far longer than the festival’s existence, but how important has it become for filmmakers such as yourself?
I really think the festival has become one of the most important festivals in the world, not just the Arab world. I’m travelling and working with many producers and distributors and I’m in contact with many European filmmakers, and now the name of Dubai has become something to be proud that you have your film screening in. It’s also not only a festival that simply shows films. With projects like the producers network and Enjaaz, it has become a bit like a meeting to create, to co-produce, to support. We’re used to having these things in Europe, I’ve known it for 30 years – I’m getting old! – but to have this in an Arabic country is very important. Palestine Stereo is the result of that.

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