Lack of finance and government attitude threatens Arab film makers

Fri Dec 16,2005

Dubai, December 16, 2005: New Arab film makers opined that lack of financing from government and business followed by the introverted outlook of regional governments has made it very difficult for film makers to make meaningful cinema.

Dubai Discoveries, a selection of up and coming regional film makers, showcases undiscovered Arab talent and provides them with a platform to draw attention to their issues. The film makers who spoke to the media included Ahmed Abdalali and Bader Bin Hirsi, producer and director of Yemen’s first feature film A New Day in Old Sana’a; Nidal ad Dibs, Syrian film maker of Under the Ceiling; and Nour-Eddine Lakhmari, the Moroccan movie Le Regarde (Gaze).

Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) programmer Ziad Khuzai said that the Dubai Discoveries section will explore new cinematic forms and convey the difficulties young Arab filmmakers face in making their films. It will also seek to generate support for new comers. “Dubai is doing a lot more than most governments in the region to support the film industry. If we look at the rest of the world, we see that film-making was initially incubated by governments in Europe and in the US. Most European governments still support their film industry through funding. In the region, unfortunately, governments are shying away from supporting their own cinema.”

Ziad commented that Iraqi Director Oday Rasheed could not be part of the festival this year as he had problems in Iraq. Ahmed Abdalali and Bader Bin Hirsi recounted their experience in raising funds for A New Day in Old Sana’a. “Yemen does not have a film industry. The concept of a Yemeni film was new to the government and to business. It took two years of convincing business about the value of product usage and placement in the film that finally led us to raise sufficient funds in Yemen but it was a tough process. We treated film making as a business in our fund raising drive.”

According to Nour-Eddine Lakhmari, “Morocco looks to France to finance their movies but the French see Moroccan cinema in their own cliché-ridden way. They put conditions on virtually every aspect of film making and conforming to their view is frustrating. As my new movie Le Regarde (Gaze) looks at the French occupation of Morocco it was impossible to get money from France and I had to get it from Norway.” Nidal ad Dibs said that Syria makes only 2 or 3 movies a year. The industry is government controlled and they do not fund or allow any more movies. “I am a tax payer who asks for my money to strengthen Syrian society and culture and the government should not have a problem with that,” he said.

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