07 August, 2006

Are the Arts important?

I would be interested in getting some views from Locals on this.

Last year, we had some film school students go to Los Angeles to experience the film industry. From the US State Dept. to Warner Brothers Studios, NBC Studios, USC Film School and several friends and associates (one who is an Academy Award winner) everyone on the US side were excited about being involved and immediately gave their support.

Guess how many UAE companies got involved? None. In fact, our main sponsor, a major UAE company (who will remain nameless) pulled out less than a week before the trip.

Warner Brothers was premiering Paradise Now and the students went and met industry people from the studio and the crew of the film.

Here is a quote from one of the students about her film:

"I wanted to show another point of view on the Palestinian conflict," said Haneen, who also played the bereaved mother in her film. "There is another side to the story, and it isn't just about politics. It's also about the history of a region, economics, society, and religion."

Haneen was pleasantly surprised to find that the American viewers were very receptive to her portrayal. "We had the chance to discuss the Palestinian situation with some producers, and they were much more knowledgeable and understanding than I would have thought," she said.

This is why we believe that this type of project is EXTREMELY important. People from different cultures talking about issues. I am not from a Middle East culture, but I am concerned that it is portrayed in a positive light.

Guess how many UAE companies (so far) have expressed an interest to be involved this year? NONE. The US State Dept is again on board financially and we are currently lining up the studio end in CA.

Why is this, because it does not promote a building project? Is it because it does not make anyone any money? I think it is wrong and a shame.

Film makers, artists, writers, musicians from the Middle East should be supported and have their work out there so other cultures can see them, this is how one learns to understand the other, even if what they show could be seen as "controversial." In addition I think the really interesting aspect to this is the US side, the entertainment side are enthusiastic and the UAE side could not be bothered.

These are their kids, their culture, their stories. Why don't they care?

Article about last year's trip. Correction, we are in RAK


Samawel said...

UAE companies fail to see the expressiveness of most artists here.

But slowly, the arts are beginning to gain the respect of everyone. Take Freej for example. There's a lot more Art around here, it's just that we don't hear as much about it as some of us would like.

Hesham said...

if upcomming production will be shallow and so far removed from reality and *ultra-drametic*when*there*is*nothing&to*be*drametic*about then I vote for a pass....and spare us a wave of useless content

Hesham said...

I was refering to Paradise Now

Anonymous said...

A country needs to have _culture_ to have art. ;)

MN said...

I think you missed the point hesham, the important part is that the kids met with professional film makers and executives, from another culture.

This is the important part. For someone to walk away and think about what they learned about someone else's culture, this is the beginning of understanding.

What movie they watched does not matter, the dialogue and interaction is what matters between the students and film industry guys.

My question is why does it not matter to this end, why is there no support?

marwan said...

Partly, it *is* due to the money culture in Dubai, and because creating something doesn't have any easy solutions. Dubai is used to "buying in" talent, not the hard birth of creation.

Another problem is that films are not accorded their proper status as an artform here; they are regarded as popcorn fare, not a "serious" discipline. Cue the comments of many people who wanted more "famous" "popular" films at the DIFF.

Films do not have to make money to be good.

John B. Chilton said...

Some possible factors:

1. Don't see it in their narrow business interest - e.g., does not improve image except among a handful, and likewise virtually no effect on sales.

2. Politically loaded - best not to risk offending powers that be.

3. There are others who claim the title of patron to the arts. Best not to claim a share of that paternal role.

4. No tax advantage.

5. Wrong requester - waiting for request from a higher level.

sand in the vaseline said...

Hesham - have you actually seen Paradise Now? I think this is quote from your own blog

"Superman Returns is coming soon to a theatre near you. The retro Classic has been updated for the new millennium and even though there is still about 4 weeks until the premiere (June 30th) there is a lot of hype around it already.

A potential blockbuster for this years summer round of huge epic movies"


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