x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Arab movie director speaks out on Middle East film industry

Mahmoud Kaabour believes Middle Eastern film-makers and broadcasters should be more open to joint-financing projects to improve the quality of the growing industry.

Filmmaker Mahmoud Kaabour.
Filmmaker Mahmoud Kaabour.

Competition between Middle East broadcasters is stifling the creation of locally produced films, according to a prominent Arab director.

Mahmoud Kaabour, whose film Teta, Alf Marra ('Grandma, A Thousand Times') has been shortlisted for a number of awards at this week's Doha Tribeca Film Festival, says that local broadcasters should be more open to joint-financing movies and documentaries.

"All the players in this budding film industry are being too competitive, without having the means to bring a full film to life [on] their own," said Mr Kaabour.

Mr Kaabour said that "letting down the competition between the different broadcasters ... so that they can talk to each other", would help ease the financial burden, and improve the quality of locally produced films.

"Competition between the networks is only natural and Darwinian. But the calibre of documentary films that goes onto the networks is relatively poor," he added.

Mr Kaabour is the founder of the Abu Dhabi-based film company Veritas Films.

The company's documentary Teta, Alf Marra, which tells the story of Mr Kaabour's 83-year-old grandmother, has been been nominated for Best Arab Film Award and the Audience Award for Best Documentary at its world premiere at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, which runs from 26-30 October.

Mr Kaabour has been nominated for the Best Arab Filmmaker Award.

Teta, Alf Marra is one of four world premiere screenings at the event. The other are Hawi by Ibrahim El Batout, Man Without a Cellphone by Sameh Zoabi and The Mountain by Ghassan Salhab.

International stars Salma Hayek Pinault and Robert De Niro will both be attending the event.

bflanagan@thenational.ae