x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Screening is dream premiere

The Citizen, which picked up the Best Ensemble Cast Award at the Boston Film Festival, is to premiere in Abu Dhabi tomorrow.

It must be some achievement to see your debut feature given the full red-carpet treatment.

That is exactly what the Syrian director Sam Kadi will experience tomorrow when The Citizen is screened in Emirates Palace.

The film, shot in Michigan in the US, which Kadi now calls home, follows the story of Ibrahim, a Lebanese immigrant chasing the American Dream.

Ibrahim wins the Green Card lottery only to arrive in New York on September 10, 2001.

"Making a movie about an immigrant was very personal and having lived through the September 11 attacks and seeing what happened, I believed it was the right story to tell," said Kadi, who went to the US from Syria in 2000 as a playwright.

"It's the story of America, inspired by true events. Some of them are mine."

The Citizen, which had its world premiere last month at the Boston Film Festival, where it picked up Best Ensemble Cast Award and the Mass Impact Award, is something of a love letter to the American Dream.

It follows Ibrahim through the turbulence of post 9/11 for Arab-Americans as he pursues his ambitions of supporting himself and setting up a business.

"I really believed in the American Dream," said Kadi. "After 9/11 we were living through circumstances that made it harder to accomplish, but I always believed it was there.

"My dream made it possible to quit my full-time engineering job to work full time as a filmmaker."

The move seems to have paid off for Kadi. His short films and documentaries have already picked up several awards, with 2009's Raised Alone winning Best Family Short Film at the New York International Independent Film Festival.

Kadi said he was eyeing further feature film ideas. "I'm currently looking at two projects, both feature-length movies."