MEIFF presents Syrian Minister for Culture with Black Pearl Award
His Excellency Riyad Nassan Agha, Syria’s Minister for Culture, was presented with the Middle East International Film Festival (MEIFF) Black Pearl award to congratulate Syria on the occasion of Damascus being named the ‘2008 Cultural Capital for the Arab World’ by the Arab League.
H.E. Mohammad Khalaf Al Mazrouei, MEIFF’s Vice President and Director General of Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) presented the award to H.E. Agha in the presence of an array of intellectuals, actors and officials at Emirates Palace.
In attendance were - Rustum Al Zoubi, Syrian Ambassador to the UAE; Eissa Al Mazrouei, Project Manager of MEIFF and ADACH; Nashwa Al Ruwaini, MEIFF’s Director; Samir Farid, Festival Consultant and Head of Arabic Programming and Mohammad Al Ahmad, Director of Damascus Film Festival.
H.E. Agha extended his deepest gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and the UAE government for granting Syria this award. He also extended his great appreciation to ADACH and MEIFF for the award.
“On behalf of Syria and Damascus, we thank you for this honour. Cinema is an international language, providing the ability for all cultures to communicate with and understand each other. We firmly believe that cinema is an important component of our nation’s culture, and Syria possesses one of the most extensive history and experience with the cinematic industry in the Arab world, after Egypt,” said H.E. Agha.
H.E. Al Mazrouei stated that the organisers of the second annual MEIFF were grateful for the Minister of Culture’s attendance during the festival, and importantly for his introduction to the film Hasiba by Syrian director Rimon Butrous, which screened at MEIFF earlier this week.
“H.E. Agha’s participation and support of this year’s festival clearly crystallises the strong bonds between both the Syrian and Emarati cultural institutions, and we look forward to future partnership to encourage the growth and development of the arts in our nations,” said H.E. Al Mazrouei.
Nashwa Al Ruwaini, MEIFF’s Director said the Syrian film presence at this year’s edition of MEIFF had noticeably increased. “We have three films screened at MEIFF this year, Hasiba which is competing in the Feature Films competition, and Farewell competing in the Short Films programme. We have also been proud to present the first ever feature-length Arab animated film, Thread of Life by Razam Higazi as part of the screenings under the Arab Women Directors program.”
During the event, Mr Samir Farid, Festival Consultant and Head of Arabic Programming for MEIFF handed H.E. Agha a request to be approved by the Higher Committee of Culture Ministers of the Arab World.
The request details facilitating the improved marketing and distributing of Arab films within Arab countries, and asks that all films regardless of their country of origin will be treated equally. H.E. Agha promised that he will pass this request to the committee during their meeting to take place next month.