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‘Being Osama’ Middle East Premiere at the DIFF 2005

Thu Dec 15,2005

Dubai, December 13, 2005: ‘Being Osama’ an intimate glimpse into the lives of six men named Osama living in Canada will have its Middle East Premiere at the 2nd Dubai International Film Festival. The film sheds light upon issues of race, immigration and belonging as they discuss topics such as religion, Middle East politics and the illusive nature of identity.

Co-directed by Mahmoud Kaabour and Tim Schwab, this documentary about the Arab diaspora bravely exposes the fault lines of racism and intolerance within North American society in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. It has been picked as Audience Favourite in a Montreal festival and has won an award for the Best Practice in Fighting Racism.

Its Dubai Premiere is sold out. “We took the name Osama - now the culmination of all the negative stereotypes of Arabs in the minds of the westerners – and attached it to completely opposite characteristics of the people that are part of ‘Being Osama’. We are directly addressing the Arab context in North America through the diversity of our diaspora communities,” said Mahmoud.

Though these men have separate lives, because of their name are lumped together within Canadian society, and are grasped by the long arm of post-9/11 government policy. “They were initially very reluctant to being filmed but over a period of more than a year and after having a large number of lunches with each of them, we were able to get the lives of six of them on film,” said Tim Schwab. Mahmoud Kaabour was born in Lebanon and was raised in Dubai.

He comes from family of artists, writers and musicians. His unsuccessful attempt at obtaining Canadian citizenship after an attempt that lasted six years has been widely reported in Canada as an example of intransigent bureaucracy. “Though my application for citizenship was never rejected, I was never made citizen and never made to feel welcome. I could not move out of Canada for six long years, even to exhibit my work in various film festivals. Now I am back in Dubai and it feels good.”

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Note to Editors: The second Dubai International Film Festival 2005 (DIFF) opened at 8 p.m. on Sunday, December 11 and will continue until Saturday, December 17, 2005. 98 participating films are now showing at the Festival venues of the Madinat Arena, the Madinat Theatre in Souk Madinat Jumeirah and CineStar Cinemas at the Mall of the Emirates.

A series of interactive panel discussions between the public, filmmakers and industry specialists will be held at the Knowledge Village auditorium. Tickets, and an entire schedule of the Festival films and events, are available through the Dubai Film Festival website www.dubaifilmfest.com, or via the DIFF Call Centre on 04-367-6701.

The Festival is presented by Dubai Media City and its Founding Sponsors are Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Properties, Emirates, Etisalat and the Madinat Jumeirah – the Arabian Resort. The Festival’s Gold Sponsors are Bin Hendi Enterprises, National Bank of Dubai, Showtime, The Kanoo Group and The Palm Jumeirah; the Silver Sponsors are Filmworks, Motivate Publishing and Sony.

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