The Arab documentaries at this year's DIFF made a great impact with Al Sarkha featuring the women's liberation in Yemen, The Man Inside focusing on fatherhood and the difficulties of working abroad and Bekas on two Kurdistani orphans.
DIFF weekend notebook: Al Sarkha, Bekas and The Man Inside
The Yemeni women who took to the streets during the protests that forced Abdullah Ali Saleh to step down as president are the subject of Khadija Al Salami’s documentary Al Sarkha (The Scream).
She said women in Yemen were not expected to speak out, which made the demonstrators’ stand all the more remarkable.
“For me, they were not only revolting against the regime but also against the whole society and the people closest to them - their husbands, their fathers and their brothers,” she added.
“The fact that thousands of them came out on the streets and screamed against their oppression, that was very impressive. They were screaming: ‘We exist’, and I thought that was the most wonderful thing when I was in Yemen.”
The film, a Muhr Arab Awards contender, tells the stories of five of the women.
Khadija, Yemen’s first female filmmaker, added: “Thanks to this revolt women now are not afraid to come out and express themselves. The fear is gone from them, they know they can make a change.”
She said women should have the same rights, duties and opportunities as men.
“Women are capable of doing anything they want,” she added. “If a woman wants to be in politics, or social work, she has the right to choose for herself, and not have her father or her husband or society choose for her.”
The Man Inside
The filmmaker Karim Goury is hoping that the intensely personal story he tells in The Man Inside will strike a chord with others.
In 1989 his Egyptian father Amin Hassan, who Goury had never met, died after leaving his family and going to work at a hotel in Kuwait City. Twenty-two years later Goury, 43, booked a room at the hotel and, surrounded by his father’s belongings, shot the film there.
He said the experience helped him to understand how his father felt when he left his family and moved abroad to work.
“It’s personal, but I worked hard not to talk about myself but to talk about something universal,” he said. “All these themes are universal, when we talk about fatherhood, identity, roots, heritage and transmission, all this stuff concerns everyone.”
The Man Inside is an entry in the Muhr Arab documentary section.
The Kurdish director Karzan Kader spent three years having the old adage about never working with children and animals drummed into him at film school - then completely ignored it.
His movie Bekas stars two youngsters who had no prior experience of acting… and the film also features a donkey.
Sarwar Fazil, 15, and Zamand Taha, 13, play Dana and Zana, orphaned brothers living in Iraqi Kurdistan under Saddam Hussein. Filming was not without its challenges.
“Zamand was running so fast that my director of photography couldn’t have the focus right on him,” said Karzan. “We had to make limits for him: ‘You go from there to there and no further, please stand still.’ But he took directions very well.”
Bekas will be screened on Saturday.