“Arab Cinema, a Search for Identity” was the title of a symposium recently held in Damascus with the participation of Qeis al Zubaidi, Hekmat Dawoud, Bandar Abdul Hamid and Mohammed Malas.
At the beginning of the symposium, director Malas said that the title of the symposium should be changed into “Arab Identity and Searching for Cinema”, because the cinematic work is an identity in itself and searching for an identity for it is useless, according to the daily Syria Times.
Director al Zubaidi supported Malas’s view and said that it is impossible to raise the question of the identity of the Arab cinema following one hundred years of the Arab film industry. He added that the film carries the identity, pointing out that cinema is a documentation of reality and an indication of the existence of an identity. Thus, the Arab identity is crystal clear in Arab feature films.
Al Zubaidi said that he is currently working on the project of documenting a national Palestinian archive referring that he has documented about 70 films starting form 1969. He is also preparing a bibliography of the Cinematic Production of the Palestine Question.
In his argument, Dawoud talked about the obstacles facing Arab cinematic production, especially the disunity of the Arab homeland, the problems of funding, the short margin of freedom and the censorship problems. However, he referred to the remarkable progress realized in the field of film production in Syria, Egypt and other Arab states.
Bandar Abdel Hamid’s presentation referred to the existence of missing episodes in the process of cinematic production. He said that the crisis of the Arab cinema is part of the crisis of world cinema. Some cinematic critics attribute this crisis to the existence of strong rivals, namely the computer and the satellite channels which have become a preoccupation of many people.
At the end of the symposium, an Iranian film entitled The Face of God was shown.
The literary cafe, held after the screening of the film made an open dialogue with Egyptian actress Leila Olwi who talked about her plays and cinematic career. She said that her hobby is frequenting cinema and theatres, pointing out that she tried to join the opera, but she failed to pass the admission examination.
She reviewed the main stages of her cinematic career and the most successful films. She played the main role in more than 60 films and five plays. Olwi said that she did not study cinema academically despite her joining the higher institute for cinema for a year. She left the institute a year later and joined the faculty of economics.
Earlier, a symposium about the conflict of civilizations was held within the framework of the activities of al Mada Culture Week with the participation of a number of Arab intellectuals.
The participants affirmed civilizations continue each other refuting the idea of the conflict of civilizations. They said that the Arab civilization in the Middle Ages continued the achievements of the Greek civilization and the European civilization benefited from the accomplishments realized by the Arab scholars in the Middle Ages.
However, the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish sent his regrets for being unable to come to Damascus and take part in the activities, because of the deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territories – Albawaba.com