BarakaBits sat down with Najwa Najjar, renowned Palestinian filmmaker of Naim and Wadee’a (1999), Yasmine Tughani (2006), Quintessence of Oblivion (2000), Blue Gold (2004), A Boy Called Mohamed (2002), They Came from the East (2004), Pomegranates and Myrrh (2009) and the latest, the Eyes of a Thief with Egyptian actor Khaled Abol Naga. Najwa talks inspiration, challenge and the importance of being a female Arab filmmaker representing the entire region.
1) Do you think film plays an important role in the global image of Arabs?
Definitely! No other media plays a bigger or better role in making, breaking or changing an image locally, regionally and internationally, like cinema.
2) What are some positive changes you have noticed in the film world since the creation of more independent Arab films (made by Arabs)?
Different stories being told, different languages being spoken. With independent cinema came the freedom to try different structures, find non-traditional actors and actresses…this freedom can be liberating in many different ways. This is not to say that the studio or commercial cinema in the Arab World are not to be highly appreciated. Arab cinema is filled with absolutely amazing classics.
3) What is the biggest challenge of film-making in the Middle East?
Lack of a film culture among audiences, which makes distribution very difficult. We have over 300 million Arabs in the region… if there was a cinema going culture (minus Egypt of course which has huge audiences for their cinema hence making a national cinema much easier to sustain) we would have all the funding we need to make our films, in addition to presenting different narratives than the Hollywood films flooding the cinema theatres.
4) What are you primarily inspired by?
Something that makes me dream and feel that “thrill”; not much different from the moment when you start to fall in love.
5) What types of films do you hope to work on in the future?
Like to try different genres. First movie was a romantic drama, second a thriller, planning my third – a musical. So yes… I’m drawn to different genres.
Be sure to watch Najwa’s latest film, Eyes of a Thief, and let us know what you think!