ABU DHABI// The first South Asian regional film festival to be hosted in the country starts this weekend. The heads of mission from five nations - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal - gathered at the Sri Lankan embassy on Tuesday to announce a line-up of films from each of their countries. They are all members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), after which the festival has been named.
The six films - two from Sri Lanka and one from each of the other participants - carry strong social and moral messages about internal conflict and reconciliation. While avoiding any mention of specific security fears, the diplomats indicated in separate speeches that they hoped the film festival, among other planned cultural events, would help strengthen the ties between each other's communities.
"This is to encourage South Asian solidarity through culture, art and sport. We all like cricket, films and the arts and in these, our legacy and history are the same," said Mohammed Nazmul Quaunine, the Bangladeshi ambassador to the UAE. "This sort of co-operation will help our South Asian countries to heal many of our pains." Officials of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and Jayantha Darmadasa, the chairman of the Sri Lankan national film board, are expected to inaugurate the event.
"We have to work together in order to realise our common interests," said Talmiz Ahmad, the Indian ambassador. "We must address fundamental issues between our communities, which are issues of connectivity. At present the links in South Asia are weak and we must improve these connections." The films will be screened at the Cultural Foundation from March 7 to 11. They are subtitled in English and Arabic and admission is free. firstname.lastname@example.org