Film festivals are popping up across the Middle East but what does this mean for the region’s film industry? ABTV speaks to Mahmoud Kaabour - whose film, Teta, Alf Marra (Grandma, A Thousand Times) will make its debut at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival in November - about the challenges of filmmaking in the Gulf.
Kaabour’s 48-minute film was part funded by the Doha Film Institute and the Screen Institute Beirut but, as he tells ABTV, the region’s film industry still has some way to go before it can rival other parts of the world. Kaabour discusses censorship, difficulties in funding and why filmmakers shouldn’t be forced to use product placement as a way to fund their stories.
“I find that festivals are an accolade to successful economies so it’s only natural to have film festivals here,” he tells ABTV. “But I would say an investment in indigenous filmmaking is what is yet to be born. We are beginning to see the signs of interest in that but until this part of the world can sufficiently fund films from A-Z as well as show them I don’t think we can say we have a film industry in this part of the world yet.”
Lebanese-born Kaabour, who is now based in Dubai, received international acclaim for his first documentary Being Osama, a story about Arab diaspora post 9/11. He is also the managing director of the production house, Veritas Films.