Monday, 20th May 2019

Yemen’s first-ever feature film goes to Cannes

Posted on 06. May, 2005 by in Festivals

Yemen’s first-ever feature film goes to Cannes

“For the most people viewing this film, it will be the first time they ever see images of Yemen. The results will be a very positive message” which offers a “true and honest” portrait of life in Yemen, said a spokesman from the Yemeni Media Center in 2003, when the film was in the planning stage. The film will depict aspects that are “completely different from the negative image that most of the world has” of the Middle-Eastern Arab nation, said the spokesman.

Sana’a, where the capital of Yemen has been relocated since 1962, is known for its Muslim university and many mosques, as a center of Islamic culture. It was noted in medieval times as a beautiful and hospitable city, and was described by the 10th century Persian traveler Ahmad ibn Rustah as follows: “It is the city of Yemen — there not being found in the highland or the Tihama or the Hijaz a city greater, more populous or more prosperous, of more noble origin or more delicious food than it… with fine dwellings.”

The leading actor is Nabil Saber of Old Sana’a, and his co-star is the actress and make-up artist Julia Towns of London. The pair found real-life romance and exchanged wedding vows last year in London, after bowing to tradition and obtaining agreement from both their families.

The film, co-produced by the Yemen Media Center and Felix Films of London, is not yet 100% complete due to funding shortfall. There is planned to be a low-key showing to introduce the film at the Marché du Film (Film Market) portion of the Cannes Festival, but it is not eligible to compete for the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) due to its unfinished status. The official premiere is to be held this summer, with widespread promotion and showing in universities and art centers around the world.

Ben Hirsi commented on his film, “A New Day in Old Sana’a could be categorized as a romantic drama, showing a very real conflict between modern values and old, [but] is respectful of the strong morals of Yemen’s Islamic society. It does not contain such cinematic norms as profanity, graphic violence or sexually explicit content… As is true in modern-day Sana’a, however, traditional practices and concepts are tackled and confronted — topics such as love, caste, Yemeni marriage customs and the wearing of the veil are addressed in detail, and the inner turmoil that results from changing social values in a modernizing society forms a central theme of the story.”

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