Kaled Mohamad Sidik's films have won numerous awards at festivals, including Cannes and Venice, since first venturing into filmmaking in the early 1960s.
The 62-year-old Kuwaiti writer, producer and director is in the UAE for Image Nation Abu Dhabi's Bopcorn & Sawaalef film club event tomorrow night at NYU Abu Dhabi, where he will talk about his work and experiences in the industry, both regionally and internationally.
Sidik, who has been called "the spiritual father of Arabian Gulf cinema" and was honoured for his lifetime achievements at the Gulf Film Festival in 2009 , is best-known for Kuwait's first feature film, The Cruel Sea. The controversial film exploring Kuwait before the discovery of oil won nine international awards, including the The Lion of St Mark Award and Fipresci International Critics Award at the Venice Film Festival.
Sidik plans to share some of his experiences as a filmmaker with the audience, hoping to give film enthusiasts more insight into the industry.
"Forty years later and The Cruel Sea is still being criticised," he said. "Yes, oil changed things, but we should not be ashamed of our past."
Sidik jokes about how surprised he was when the film suddenly took off.
"It was around 1971, and with The Cruel Sea, I was running around all the festivals for two years until I was exhausted," he said. "I believe I'd also travelled around the world twice in just 22 days. People used to look at Arabic movies as all being like the popular Egyptian style - but then, suddenly, there was this new filmmaker with a different approach."
During the Bopcorn & Sawaalef event, he will also share stories from his career, including a memorable incident at one of the Venice Film Festivals he plans to share only with attendees.
"Being called the 'spiritual father of Arabian Gulf cinema' makes me feel old and believe me, I'm not that old," he says laughing. "But, it's honestly an honour."
Image Nation is also hosting an invite-only masterclass lunch for Sidik, with local film students and film makers.
For Sidik, the importance of storytelling is conveying messages, be they social, historical, cultural, religious or political.
"I don't like to do the typical 'cops and robbers' type of films, people already know them. Audiences need information and they like to see different worlds," he says.
The Image Nation Bopcorn & Sawaalef film club event takes place tomorrow at 6pm, NYU Abu Dhabi
* Maey El Shoush