5th Gulf Film Festival to honour pioneering Bahraini filmmaker Bassam Al-Thawadi
Founding member of GCC Cinema Society and founder of first Arab Cinema Festival in Bahrain to be presented Lifetime Achievement Award.
The fifth Gulf Film Festival, the home of bold, contemporary and innovative cinema from the Arabian peninsula, will honour veteran Bahraini filmmaker Bassam Al-Thawadi with the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to strengthening the regional film industry and his pioneering role in the Bahraini film industry, directing the country’s first feature film, The Barrier, in 1990.
The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Al-Thawadi on April 10, the opening night of the festival, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), at venues in and around Dubai Festival City.
Al-Thawadi had served on the jury of the international shorts competition of the Gulf Film Festival last year and also on the jury of the Muhr Arab Features of Dubai International Film Festival. He is currently the Head of the Drama and Documentary section at Bahrain Radio and Television Corporation since 2007. A founding member of the GCC Cinema Society, Al-Thawadi is also the founder and director-general of the first Arab Cinema Festival in Bahrain since 2000 and served on the jury of the Arab Film Festival in Paris. He is a graduate of the Higher Institute of Cinema in Cairo.
Al Thawadi is regarded as an Arab filmmaker who displays remarkable flexibility in style and subject, narrating tales of social concern in a simple yet striking manner. He directed three films, The Barrier (1990), which was screened at several international film festivals; Visitor (2004), Bahrain’s second feature film and the first in Dolby Sound system in the Gulf, and A Bahraini Tale (2006). He also produced Four Girls and Haneen through the Bahrain Film Production.
Screened at the Dubai International Film Festival 2006, A Bahraini Tale is an epic drama set during the Arab-Israeli war of 1967. It is both the personal story of a middle-class Bahraini family and an account of the hopes and faith the Arab world had in Gamal Abdel Nasser as its leader. The film won critical acclaim for skillfully interweaving a deep sense of reality and romanticism.
Pursuing his interest in photography as a teenager and making his own series of short films on 8 mm, he directed the short films, The Mask and Angels of the Earth, while he was a student at Cairo. He joined Bahrain TV in 1985 and has been involved in the production of a variety of programmes, and also produced commercials and educational & cultural programmes. Passionate about theatre too, Al-Thawadi has performed in many plays.
Al-Thawadi was chairman of the Al Sawari Video Festival of 1994 and a member of the judging committee of the Baghdad International Television & Film Festival in 1988. He organised the New Egyptian Cinema Days Festival in Bahrain in 1993, and was the director of the fifth Arab Music Festival in 1996.
Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Director of the Gulf Film Festival, said: “Bassam Al-Thawadi has relentlessly pursued his passion for cinema, even at a time when the industry was hardly recognised or evolved in the region. His love for films is only matched by his dedication to promote new and upcoming talent in the industry. Over the years, he has also continuously refined his craft, adapting new technologies without losing sight of the fundamentals. We are honoured to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Bassam Al-Thawadi, who is an inspiration for filmmakers across the Gulf region.”
Bassam Al-Thawadi said: “It is a great honour for me to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Gulf Film Festival. As Gulf filmmakers, we are proud of GFF, which has opened doors to make movies that talk about our society and express our feelings. With the honour from GFF, I feel I am at home with my family. GFF gives the coming generation of filmmakers the right to dream and I will continue to work towards promoting it as the professional gateway for filmmakers in the region. “
Last year, GFF presented Lifetime Achievement honours to Emirati actress Mariam Sultan, Saudi director/producer Mohammad F. Al Gazzaz, Kuwaiti producer/director Mohammad Al-Sanousi for their contribution to Arab cinema, and a Special Recognition Award to Kuwaiti thespian Mohammed Almunai. The festival also honoured world-renowned director Abbas Kiarostami, who held his first master-class in the region in Dubai for 45 filmmakers, as well as avant-garde French filmmaker Gerard Courant, whose films were screened in the festival’s In Focus segment.
GFF is home to a Gulf Competition for professional and student filmmakers, an international shorts competition and multiple out-of-competition segments. The festival programme also includes children’s cinema showcase, master classes, nightly industry discussions and other special events.
GFF 2012 will be held from April 10 to 16, 2012, at the InterContinental Hotel, Crowne Plaza and Grand Festival Cinemas at Dubai Festival City. The Investment Corporation of Dubai is the presenting sponsor of the Gulf Film Festival; Emirates airline is its official carrier. GFF is supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority and held in association with Dubai Studio City. More details and updates on the festival are available online at www.gulffilmfest.com or at www.facebook.com/gulffilmfestival or @gulffilmfest on Twitter.