حبك التقاليد الشعبية في الدراما السينمائية / Weaving Folk Traditions in the Cinematic Plot


Khaled Sidik



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الصديق, خالد; Sidik, Khaled

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[In this interview, the Kuwaiti film-maker Khalid Sideq explains how he was attracted to cinema when he was studying in India and describes the social, institutional, technical and financial problems he encountered in making his films, as well as his approach to the aesthetics of cinema and its function in the Gulf. These are translated excerpts from the interview conducted by Alif which appears in toto in the Arabic section of this issue: * The most creative aspect of film-making is directing. I have concentrated in my artistic endeavor on it as well as on scenario-writing, for the latter is intimately related to directing. * I have been confronted with a continuous barrage of comments and questions derived from an image of the Gulf as oil-rich and Kuwaitis as born with gold spoons in their mouths! I wanted to make a film depicting an alternative view, that of the struggle of our fathers and forefathers, before the discovery of oil. This was motivated partly by personal reasons and partly by patriotic ones. I set out searching for the right subject until I came across Enough O Sea (Bas ya bahr) of 'Abd al-Rahman al-Salih. The author, myself, and two others collaborated in writing the scenario. I wanted to show the struggle of the Gulf people against nature (and nature for us is the sea), their hard life before the advent of oil. The film was shot in an incredibly short time, calling on non-professional Kuwaitis; and we had no prior experience in making films. The film turned to be a great success and won nine awards in International Film Festivals. Beside the struggle of the Gulf people, I wanted to introduce, in this film, a new technique and style by foregrounding folk traditions and Kuwaiti lore, weaving into the dramatic plot of the film material of anthropological significance. * I chose to make a film based on Tayeb Salih's novella, The Wedding of Zein ('Urs al-Zein), because I found in it an important issue, namely, religious hypocrisy in Islamic societies. I concentrated in my film rendition on the personality of the Imam, bringing the issue to the fore. This foregrounding may constitute somehow a re-alignment of the narrative line. I was equally interested in the anthropological dimension of Sudanese village life, and I may have been swept away by its beauty and overplayed it. * My forthcoming film, The Falcon (Shahin), is based on a short story by Boccaccio. It is a joint Kuwaiti-Italian production. I tried to present in this film the medieval silk route and the Arabian caravans. I wanted to show the pioneering role of the Arabs and our distinguished civilization. The film offered me a chance to concentrate on the falcon who plays a principal role. I have been enamored with falcons ever since I made my documentary film on them in 1966. The falcon is an emblem of aristocracy, audacity and violence. But I wanted to show the other face of the falcon-that of loyalty. The plot in this film partakes of medieval romances and involves emotionally together people of different nationalities and religions. * I have tried more than once to get the official agencies in Kuwait to support the making of feature films, but I did not succeed. Thus I turned to friendly countries for collaboration: this way I avoid taking the entire risk of financing the film myself, and gain a second market for the film. Censorship also plays an inhibitive part in my films. Often when I write the scenario I make conscious compromises. In fact auto-censorship precedes official censorship in my case; and needless to say, this situation leaves its imprint on any film-maker working in the Arab and Islamic world.]

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