The first GCC film – and the story of how Sheikh Zayed saw it

The National - News - - ARTS & LIFESTYLE -

“I felt 47 years younger for see­ing the film again here tonight,” said di­rec­tor Khalid Al Sid­diq at the start of his Q&A ses­sion fol­low­ing the screen­ing of his film The

Cruel Sea (pic­tured be­low), a 1972 drama, at NYU Abu Dhabi on Sun­day night. It was the first fea­ture film to have been di­rected and pro­duced by a na­tional in the Gulf re­gion, and was se­lected as the coun­try’s en­try for the Best For­eign Lan­guage Film at the 45th Academy Awards. “I had to sell land to make this film,” Al Sid­diq said proudly. It tells the story of a young man who pleads with his fa­ther, a for­mer pearl diver who was in­jured by a shark, to let him go and earn a liv­ing col­lect­ing the pre­cious haul from the sea. The young man, played by Kuwaiti ac­tor Mo­hammed Al Man­sour, de­liv­ers a mov­ing por­trayal of des­per­a­tion and the need to prove one­self to fam­ily and so­ci­ety. Renowned Kuwaiti screen and stage ac­tors Saad Al Faraj and Hayat Al Fa­had play the young man’s fa­ther and mother and their per­for­mances re­veal a glimpse of what was ahead for their in­cred­i­ble ca­reers. Al Sid­diq re­called how the film was first shown in Abu Dhabi. “I got a call from one of the min­is­ters in Kuwait telling me that Sheikh Zayed would like to see the film. I had to de­liver it to him.” Al Sid­diq was told that Sheikh Zayed loved it. The Cruel Sea is yet to be re­stored and re­mas­tered prop­erly, and con­sid­er­ing its mon­u­men­tal value in the re­gion’s film his­tory it is def­i­nitely de­serv­ing of that love and at­ten­tion.

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