Monday, July 14, 2008
Lights, Camera, Action!
To conclude our weekend, after the very eventful snorkeling trip, we all rushed home to get cleaned up for the red carpet! We had received an invitation to the opening night of "Documentary Voices: Pulling Focus" which was the first ever United Arab Emirate initiative to focus just on documentary films.
After being ushered to our seats, there was a brief delay in the start of the ceremonies. A few minutes later amongst a flurry of excitement Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum strolled in with a posse of about 20 people and took his seat in the front row. He is the son of Sheikh Mohammed (the ruler of Dubai), so people were pretty excited that a royal was in attendance!
It was great to be an invited guest, we got to sneak preview two of the films that would be playing at the festival that week. The first was a film by Kamran Shirdel, who is known in the industry as the 'Godfather of Iranian cinema' called Dubai: A Pearl in the Gulf. The footage, which was was taken in 1974 is considered an unprecedented look at Dubai just as it began to develop. It captures amazing footage of the Bedouin way of life and the way Dubai was changing around them. Some of our favorite footage was of a 35 years younger, and aviator clad Sheikh Mohammad flying a helicopter daily over the dessert as part of his role as the minister of defense.
The second film was particularly heart wrenching, and really courageous. It is called "I know I Am Not Alone" by Michael Franti. It is the story of an American musician who goes to Iraq to tell the story of the people there, and what they are going through. He travels around the devastation with an acoustic guitar and plays music for anyone who will listen and along the way talks to American troops, and teenage Iraqi's alike about what then want for their future. The only thing missing was the paper bag I wanted to pull over my head when we had to exit, because I am so ashamed of what my country is doing there.
The evening concluded with special performance by YAS, a rap artist from Iran nicknamed the "Persian Tupac". He is the first rapper to have been granted permission by the Iranian government to release this music to the public. Lisa and I loved his performance, but were embarrassed when we gushed about it to him later, only to learn that he didn't speak any English. Ah, but through the music we had an understanding. Check his music below!