The second Kuwait Film Festival ended with the screening of five feature films in its official competition. Three of them won valuable material prizes: “The Bathroom Squad” by Ramadan Khosroh, “Ateej” by Ahmad Al Khalaf and “Sahwa” by Mohammed Salah Al-Majibil. The order is 29 thousand dinars, and 14 thousand and 11 thousand, totaling 45 thousand Kuwaiti dinars. Given the limited competition in that category, the results seemed predictable.
This is in contrast to the competition in the short feature film, in which 20 films won: “The Chamber” by Ammar al-Moussawi, “Hatem Siddiq Jassem” by Ahmed Eraj, and “Combpars” by Abdel Aziz Al-Balam. The jury of Amer Al Tamimi (Kuwait), Tariq Al-Shennawi (Egypt), Bassam Al-Thawadi (Bahrain) and Nadra Amran (Jordan) was awarded a special prize for the film “House of the Father” by Noura Al-Musallam.
From the results, the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters (the organizer of the festival) sought to award valuable material prizes in support of Kuwaiti filmmakers. While the jury preferred a different course, recommending the allocation of individual awards similar to the world festivals as the best actor, actress, director and writer. In its recommendations, the Committee also stressed the regularity of the Festival, with films in spite of limited potential.
However, it is noteworthy that the festival completely ignored in its second session the category of documentaries, although young people accept them for various reasons, most notably the possibility of obtaining support or funding. And opened the door to the participation of films produced during the last three years, some of which preceded him to participate in Arab and international festivals, to avoid the problem of the lack of Kuwaiti products.
However, the regularity of the festival requires in the future that the official competition is limited to the production of the previous year only, with the possibility of opening the field for the presentation of Arab and international films, even outside the official competition. Because it is difficult for any festival to feed only on a limited local product. There is a need for friction and openness to global and Arab experiences.
Public and Guests
All the activities were held in the halls of the National Library of Kuwait, which provided the public with the transition and non-dispersion between more than one place. However, it was not inconsistent in time. Some attributed the relatively low public to advertising and marketing. In addition, the public, which has been used to American and Egyptian cinema for years, is still suspicious of the Kuwaiti film.
The absence of stars and celebrities, with their ability to attract the public and the media, was one of the main reasons for the limited presence of business people and some officials and interested in film.
The director of the festival also honored some of the Kuwaiti film and television pioneers, headed by the late director and media director Abdullah Al-Muhailan, who presented a number of documentaries. A symposium was held in addition to the director of photography Tawfiq Al-Amir, And the director and journalist Hafez Abdul Razzaq.
The honoring of Arab and international stars, along with the Kuwaiti pioneers, would have contributed more to encourage the audience to attend. Overall, the number of guests for the second session was less than the first session.
Workshops and Seminars
At the opening ceremony, Sheikha Nasr Al Salem Al Ali, member of the Preparatory Committee, delivered a speech to the General Secretariat of the National Council and stressed the importance of the festival to develop the film industry in Kuwait and extend bridges of communication between peoples. In this context, several workshops and lectures were held free of charge to allow young people to learn more, including the workshop “Hags, Idea, Film” by director Yarub Bourhama, and the lecture “the mental image between reality and fiction” critic Tariq Shennawi, and the lecture “short feature films in Kuwait: History and Experiences” presented by Faisal Al-Qahtani, and a lecture “Horizons Cinema” product Hisham Al-Ghanim. However, the main observation was that the dates of the workshops and lectures were incompatible with the opportunity to follow them all, as most of the activities were held from 4 pm every day. Some workshop participants felt that their duration was relatively short, not exceeding three or five days.
Since the first session, there has been controversy over the extent to which young people have the opportunity to express themselves in filmmaking, to what extent censorship interferes with business openness, as well as the role of the viewing committee. While the Assistant Secretary-General for the Culture Sector in the National Council, Issa Al-Ansari, that the censorship was very flexible and did not block any film, it is noted that the number of films participated, in general, was less than the first session, which participated in 34 films, including the category of documentary work, it also included 14 workshops and a film lecture. Which means that a simple comparison between the two sessions, reveals that the first was more active and larger, the level of the number of films and categories of awards, the number of guests, as well as accompanying activities. Although the second session was postponed from March to October, giving more preparation time.
The cancellation of certain categories of awards, the absence of any non-Kuwaiti cinema, and the generally low number of guests, clearly indicate the limited budget, most of which go as prizes. This is understandable in view of the fact that the festival is supported by a government body that sponsors activities and festivals, perhaps overstretched. This led to the thinking of preparing for the third session to involve the private sector in the management and development of the festival and the development of the budget to ensure continuity.
The films are all local, no doubt that they are occupied primarily by expressing their environment and cultural context. The film “Bath Squadron” won the first prize in the category of feature films, dealing with the last moments of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and the role of the popular resistance in repelling the aggression.
Ateej, the second prize winner, deals with social life from a relatively trivial perspective. It relates to the story of an expensive “mosque” and its transfer from one hand to another, reflecting class differences in Kuwaiti society and intergenerational conflict.
The film’s lucky winners are the participation of professional and well-known actors: Dawood Hussein, Jamal Al-Radhan, Bashar Al Shatti, Khaled Al-Breiki, Haifa Adel and Salah Al Mulla in the other film.
In short, the stories of short films and long-term social issues, including conflicts between parents and children and the desire to self-prove, and the problems of unemployment and phenomena associated with social networks.
Just as the two-course festival seeks to find a path for itself, between old festivals and open budgets……filmmakers tried to search for self and identity in a rapidly changing world.