GCFF shares Mid­dle East voices with au­di­ences in Lon­don

2 Kuwaiti short films among trav­el­ling film fes­ti­val

Arab Times - - WHAT'S ON -

By Ci­na­tra Fer­nan­des

Arab Times Staff The

5th Green Car­a­van Film Fes­ti­val (GCFF) is shar­ing voices from the Mid­dle East with au­di­ences in Lon­don from 27-31 Oc­to­ber and in­cludes shorts from five Mid­dle East­ern coun­tries, in­clud­ing Kuwait, Bahrain, Tu­nisia, Iran, and the United Arab Emi­rates and fea­ture length doc­u­men­taries from the United King­dom, Pales­tine, France, Aus­tralia, Canada, and the United States.

The trav­el­ling film fes­ti­val of en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cially con­scious films, was founded by the en­vi­ron­men­tal com­pany Equi­lib­rium in 2009, has toured Kuwait and Dubai for four years and made its Lon­don de­but this week.

San­dra Al-Saleh, Co-Pro­ducer of GCFF, spoke to the Arab Times about how the fes­ti­val hopes to bring to­gether a va­ri­ety of au­di­ences, film­mak­ers, NGOs and sup­port­ers that can dis­cover, share and co­op­er­ate on the vi­tal is­sues preented by the films in an at­mos­phere of in­spired ca­ma­raderie and pas­sion.

Can you be­gin by tak­ing a look back and telling us why the Green Car­a­van Film Fes­ti­val was started?

It be­gan be­cause we re­alised that it was im­por­tant to share in­for­ma­tion and build aware­ness about en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues in ways that were more ac­ces­si­ble to wider au­di­ences. Films speak to all kinds of peo­ple and stir your emo­tions mak­ing you more likely to take ac­tion or even just un­der­stand an is­sue more clearly.

In its five sea­sons, how has the GCFF evolved and ex­panded?

It has man­aged to grow from screen­ing in a sin­gle lo­ca­tion in Kuwait to mul­ti­ple lo­ca­tions around the coun­try and in Dubai and now Lon­don, so in terms of lo­ca­tions it has re­ally grown into its orig­i­nal pur­pose as a trav­el­ling fes­ti­val.

It has also grown into in­clud­ing more so­cially con­scious films that go be­yond en­vi­ron­men­tal themes but are still linked to en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues.

Why do you think that film, as a medium, works well in high­light­ing is­sues?

It is a fa­mil­iar and easy to han­dle medium to most, it isn’t much to ask peo­ple to spend an hour or so watch­ing a film that might make a dif­fer­ence to your life. It takes less time for you to ex­plore and di­gest an is­sue by watch­ing a film than it would in any other medium, so it is usu­ally a great way to get peo­ple in­ter­ested in or be in­spired by some­thing they might have never con­sid­ered be­fore.

How many films will be screened this year? What is your cri­te­ria for se­lec­tion?

This year we have 6 short films from the Mid­dle East which we felt were im­por­tant to share with an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence in Lon­don. We wanted to show­case tal­ent from the re­gion and have lo­cal voices speak for them­selves about them­selves rather than to have oth­ers nar­rate their sto­ries.

We have 5 in­ter­na­tional fea­ture length films as well and our cri­te­ria are sim­ple, we are in­ter­ested in films with a so­cial or en­vi­ron­men­tal mes­sage that are well made and well thought out.

Can you tell us more about the en­tries from the MENA re­gion and Kuwait in par­tic­u­lar.

We have two short films pro­duced by Kuwait, one is ‘Di­nosaur’ by well known lo­cal film­maker Me­q­dad Al-Kout who has al­ways made films that shine a light on so­cial is­sues in Kuwait with hu­mour and pathos. The other film is ‘My Pink Room by Vachan Sharma which looks at the world through the eyes of a Syr­ian refugee boy. The script is based on the writ­ings of Hooda Shawa and is a very mov­ing and timely short piece.

We also have the very well re­ceived ‘Cen­tral Mar­ket’ by Bahraini di­rec­tor Saleh Nass which is an in­ti­mately paced story about a young boy work­ing in a food mar­ket. ‘Dagh­wah’ is a beau­ti­fully filmed look at a dis­ap­pear­ing method of fish­ing in the UAE di­rected by Moe Na­jati. A de­light­ful ad­di­tion is the funny and heart-break­ing ‘The Pur­ple House’ by Tu­nisian di­rec­tor Se­lim Gribaa, which is about a man in search of em­ploy­ment Tu­nisia be­fore and af­ter the Arab Spring.

How would you as­sess the cli­mate for de­bate in the re­gion? How

What is art from the Is­lamic world? Nov 21, Nov 28, Dec 5 are films con­tribut­ing to that?

There are many dif­fer­ent lay­ers of so­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tion that are either fos­ter­ing con­struc­tive pro­gres­sive de­bate or sti­fling it. We are lucky enough to work in a field in which we get to meet many hope­ful en­er­getic and pos­i­tive peo­ple work­ing for change, but we also know that very of­ten av­enues for ac­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion are closed and opin­ions are dif­fi­cult to change. We think that if you are moved by a film, and our films are usu­ally hard to be neu­tral about, you will feel im­pelled to dis­cuss and de­bate and ed­u­cate oth­ers about the is­sues pre­sented and we hope that we con­tin­ues to en­cour­age spa­ces that are open to ex­plor­ing and

One of film stills screened at GCFF

IBAK ju­niors bag­ging 13 medals in the 2nd GCC Ju­nior Cham­pi­onship held in Bahrain early this year and as well as in the 2nd GCC in­vi­ta­tional Bad­minton tour­na­ment re­cently held in Kuwait.

The motto of In­spire, Train and Achieve is what we have been do­ing for the last five years and our ef­forts have not gone in vain. With more than 500 trainees who have passed through our mod­ules, many young­sters have gone on to achieve re­sound­ing im­prov­ing the world around us.

What was the most chal­leng­ing part of putting to­gether the film fes­ti­val?

The chal­lenges come up at ev­ery stage, but each of them is also a plea­sure. There is of course the search for the per­fect pro­gram of films and that takes a long time and a lot of view­ing. We had nearly 2,000 sub­mis­sions and saw a fur­ther 100 films that were either rec­om­mended or looked in­ter­est­ing this year. That is a fun but chal­leng­ing task. Then of course you have to make sure you have good venues avail­able and we were very lucky to al­ways have very sup­port­ive and en­thu­si­as­tic venue part­ners through­out and this year is

suc­cess and many recre­ational adult trainees have won com­pe­ti­tions too.

As part of pro­mot­ing the game we are in­tro­duc­ing the game to our younger gen­er­a­tion, we would like to in­vite in­ter­ested chil­dren/adults to come and be part of the 11th Mod­ule which will be held at the IBAK gym premises in Salwa. We pre­sume you will make use of this won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity and be part of the en­deavor to pro­mote bad­minton in a big way. You can visit no ex­cep­tion with the won­der­ful Rich Mix and The Front­line Club both be­ing wel­com­ing homes for the fes­ti­val in Lon­don.

How would you gauge the present day aware­ness on en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial is­sues? Are there any mark­ers of change?

We are not any­where near where we should be in terms of deal­ing with cli­mate change and fac­ing the many en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges we have but we do cer­tainly see a great im­prove­ment over the years. Peo­ple are more aware, more wor­ried and more ready to act. But the time to make a dif­fer­ence is pass­ing and we need to be much more in­volved and ed­u­cated about the chal­lenges than we are.

From your ex­pe­ri­ence, do film­mak­ers in the re­gion have enough sup­port in­sti­tu­tion­ally and in terms of an au­di­ence? What are the most press­ing chal­lenges that emerg­ing film­mak­ers in the re­gion face?

The land­scape for film has re­ally im­proved over the years. Sup­port is made much more avail­able to lo­cal tal­ent, fund­ing is eas­ier to get than be­fore with all the coun­tries in the re­gion putting an ef­fort into sup­port­ing film. How­ever, we still have gaps in terms of proper train­ing and a real fer­tile en­vi­ron­ment where film­mak­ers feels not only sup­ported but free to make and say what­ever they want. Au­di­ences are also grow­ing more in­ter­ested in lo­cally made films, es­pe­cially as the qual­ity of film­mak­ing is im­prov­ing.

Poster of UAE film ‘Dagh­wah’

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