Wednesday, 20 December 2006

The Dubai International Film Festival is covered by Sophie Tedmanson in today's The Australian. She travelled to Dubai as a guest of the festival and wrote just over 1100 words about her experiences.

They seem to have been rewarding, and justify the length of the piece. A lot of space is dedicated to the film Felafel by Michel Kammoun, a Lebanese director.

Also interesting is what an Iranian distributor of films, Katayoon Shahabi, says about the Middle East:

"We need such an event as the festival because we don't have a window for our region for cultural exchange," she said. "Especially for us to get to know each other better, for Arab countries to know Iranian films and how we can build our own bridges. It is a very good initiative, but there is a lot of work to do."

And:

"Just because we're neighbours doesn't mean we know each other. We think we know each other but we don't," she said. "We have to create a public for our cinema in the region. The only way to save our region, through all the misunderstanding, war and politics ... is through educating people with culture."

This reminds me of what I read about European cinema while watching the telecast of an awards ceremony. Hollywood is so powerful, and successful at distributing its product, that other players are squeezed out of cinemas. It is important, they said, for European movie houses to support European distributors, so that an alternative voice could be heard.

Nevertheless, on another point raised by Shahabi, I don't think that culture can be considered a force in education, nor should it. If it is, there is the equal danger that people will blame artistic productions for such things as "moral decline". Culture should be considered purely a method of entertainment. Anything further that derives from exposure to cultural products must be considered an additional extra, a side-effect, marginal to the main effect — entertainment.

Especially in countries where education levels cannot support liberal humanism. God knows, it's often enough that you hear the pundits complaining, in Australia, that television is a corrupting influence. It's even more likely to happen in places where morals are thought to require legal bolstering, such as in Middle-Eastern countries.

1 comment:

Mary Stratton said...

I have attended the film festival they are awesome.They are organised by the Event agency Dubai