Media’s potential as cultural bridge builder barely tapped, says Her Majesty Queen Noor Al Hussein

Mon Dec 14,2009

Her Majesty Queen Noor Al Hussein said the establishment of world-class platforms like the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) can expand the exposure of global audiences about the perspectives and narratives of one another’s culture. She was addressing the annual Cultural Bridge panel organised by DIFF, as Guest of Honour.

Highlighting the importance of media in identity formation and cross-cultural exchanges, she said its potential as cultural bridge builder is barely tapped. Her Majesty Queen Noor said films like Budrus, which was screened as the Cultural Bridge Gala at DIFF, has the power to open up communication and exemplify how media can influence us.

Citing examples and offering personal insights, she explained that media has the power to shift behaviour and thinking, underscoring the power of cinema to serve as a knife to cut through the differences and promote peace and prosperity.

DIFF Chairman Abdulhamid Juma said the Cultural Bridge panel, intrinsically linked to the central credo of the festival – Building Cultures, Meeting Minds – highlights the ability of cinema to break down cultural barriers. He said the media plays a central role in widening the understanding of different cultures.

Julia Bacha, Director of Budrus; Hollywood Producer Mike Medavoy and MIT Professor Rebecca Saxe, participated in the Panel, moderated by Shamil Idriss, chief executive officer of Soliya. The participants discussed the current trends in media, including the emergence of digital media, reiterating the importance of adhering to the traditions of good story telling to bring meaningful change.

Bacha said that documentaries should not “beat people over their head” driven by the sole focus on changing the world, so much that the focus of the filmmakers become clouded. “Only good story telling will change the people.”  The speakers shared cutting-edge research from the fields of neuro-science and social psychology, offering a unique forum for topical discussion.

The panel discussion complements DIFF 2009’s initiative of unveiling a special study ‘Media and InterGroup Relations – Research on Media and Social Change,’ the result of a two-year effort by the non-profit Alliance of Civilisation Media Fund (AOCMF, renamed, Soliya) to better understand the impact that media has and could have on cross-cultural understanding and integroup relations.

Her Majesty Queen Noor Al Hussein’s work across the Arab World has focused on education, conservation, sustainable development, human rights and cross-cultural understanding. Initiatives such as the Noor Al Hussein Foundation, King Hussein Foundation and King Hussein Foundation International – all of which she chairs – have transformed development thinking in Jordan and wider Middle East.

DIFF 2009 is held in association with Dubai Studio City. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah are the principal sponsors of DIFF and the event is supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture).

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