- literally 'happy chance' generally used for 'nice meeting you!' And it is - nice meeting you, in whichever language I say it. The A-Z is great for meeting new bloggers and also reconnecting with old friends. Fursa sa'eeda, folks! all who stop by here.
an absolute icon in the Arab world, beloved across the nations, Fairouz is from Lebanon - here she's performing live at Las Vegas
Or listen to her sing this golden oldie love song, she's in top form, voice like a cross between velvet and chocolate, ooh! Fairouz means turquoise in Arabic, incidentally...
Because Saudi Arabia does not much dig cinemas, (they banned theatres in the 1980’s there) - therefore, many people have the impression that Arabs are cinephobes. Not so, folks! Arabs are avid consumers of films, they love screen entertainment - the cinemas I’ve been to in Cairo, Dubai and Bahrain run to packed houses regularly.
But much of the demand for films/entertainment here is met by foreign films. For every screen showing an Arabic film, I’ve noticed another 4-5 English ones. Arabs just don't make many films.
This has puzzled me no end, because they are a super-creative, effusive and expressive people, uber-passionate about art, and with a huge tradition in visual/performing arts and storytelling. Why then, does that not translate to a similar interest, profusion and perfection in moving pictures?
Egypt is the only Arab country where film-making has been consistent for any length of time, but even there the so-called ‘golden age’ is past. More than three quarters of all Arab films ever produced are Egyptian, the total archive of all Arab films is possibly less than 4000. I find this beyond perplexing! (You have to make allowance for me of course, because I come from a culture that makes roughly 800 Bollywood films a year, apart from the very robust numbers of regional language films in Bengali, Tamil, Telegu, etc, so my perspectives are coloured by this)
I’ve been told it has to do with the religious taboo on images, but I don’t really buy that. That should apply equally to still photographs, and it clearly doesn’t. (Arab work on still photography is as mind boggling as their work anywhere else, believe me!)
Some tell me film-making has suffered from too much regulation, poor funding, inconsistent flip-flops in policies and a lack of distribution. That politics have muscled into studios and thwarted artistic freedom.
Ennyhoo, be that as it may, this has meant my exposure to Arabic films is more limited than I’d have liked. My initial viewings were basically on the long bus rides from Cairo to Sharm or the Red Sea – usually a film was screened for passenger entertainment. Remarkably similar to the Bollywood formula type was my takeaway – melodramatic, caricature-like characters, loud acting, predictable HEA plotlines, little nuance anywhere. Not impressed, and more and more baffled.
Subsequently however, I came across films of independent filmmakers. And some made for exceptionally rich viewing.
Watch this prize winning short:
or this one which has found its way to the Cannes Festival -
or read about the 10 best Arab films ever, presented there. Click here to read about trail blazing Arab film directors and their acclaimed work.
Did you know Arabs are fans of a whole swathe of dubbed/subtitled TV entertainment from America, and Turkey? Also films from India? Some of them actually learn Hindi by watching the films and speak it almost fluently!
Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2017