Tuesday, 25 October 2011

‘Black Gold’: a New Historical Era of Arab Film


Director, Producer and Key Cast of the film discuss ‘Noble, Universal’ themes at DTFF

Doha, 25 October 2011 – The director, producer and key cast members of Black Gold, the Doha Film Institute’s first international co-production, were on hand Tuesday, October 25, at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF) to discuss the film ahead of its glittering opening night world premiere in the Festival’s spectacular Katara Open Air Cinema (KOAT).


The packed press conference saw the film’s producer Tarak Ben Ammar, director Jean Jacques Annaud, cast Freida Pinto, Mark Strong and Tahar Rahim discuss the making of the film on location in Tunisia which coincided with the revolution in the country during the recent Arab Spring and Black Gold’s four weeks of location shooting in Qatar at the spectacular sand dunes of Mesaieed.

Set in 1930’s Arabia, ‘Black Gold’ tells the story of two warring Emirs who make a truce that binds them to respect a no man’s land between their desert kingdoms. However, after oil is discovered, the stage is set for control of the area and the riches it promises to yield.

At the press conference Tuesday morning, Tarak Ben Ammar, the film’s producer and CEO of co-production partner Quinta Communications, said: “We are proud to be here presenting the film at DTFF which is being seen here at the same time by the Qatari people, six years after I first came to Doha,” and said the film wouldn’tve been possible without the involvement of the Doha Film Institute.
                                                                                                                       
Ben Ammar spoke of his pride in filming the movie during the Tunisian revolution, comparing the new openness of Tunisia after the fall of former Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and yesterday’s elections as reflective of some of the key themes of the story of Black Gold – revolution, freedom, and a changing future depicting a new view of the Arab world. 

The film’s director, Jean-Jacques Annaud, said: “My experiences of being on holiday in the Arab region were very different from what I had heard and read in the media. This world became my passion, and I wanted to make a film about the Arab world made in the Arab world.”

Ben Ammar praised the “wonderful authenticity” of Tahar Rahim in creating the central character of the Emir in the film as an Algerian actor playing an Arab character. Rahim called Black Gold “a noble movie that portrays lofty ideas and a new vision of the Arab world.”

British actor Mark Strong agreed, saying: “The film is about dignity, integrity, honesty, and being a good father, universal themes which cross cultural boundaries. As King Amar, I didn’t feel like I was playing ‘An Arab,’ it just so happened that he is an Arab character. I felt like I was playing a father who just happened to have those qualities.”

Freida Pinto was asked about playing an Arab woman in the film, and stated that her character was brought up in a different time with different traditions: “Princess Lallah wants freedom, but she pushes delicately against her tradition by respecting her father as opposed to rebelling against it outright.”

Pinto joked that if there were a Black Gold 2 her character would be very different and be about the changing freedoms of young women in the Arab world and how to balance that while remaining true to Arab culture.

In closing, director Jean-Jacques Annaud said that “Black Gold is not just a film about the Arab world. At the heart of the film is an open discussion about what the future will hold, how we deal with modernity, which every civilization in the world has had to deal with. It is in keeping with the time period in which the film is set.”

Black Gold stars Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Tahar Rahim, Mark Strong and Liya Kebede. In a novel collaboration, legendary composer James Horner (Titanic,TroyAvatar) composed the film’s score, featuring Qatari vocalist Fahad al Kubaisi on the moving opening track and collaborating with Qatari composer Abdullah al Manai on an adaptation of a traditional Bedouin song.  

For additional information relating to Festival screenings, tickets, venues or transportation please visit: http://www.dohafilminstitute.com/filmfestival.

The official website for Black Gold is: http://blackgold-themovie.com. The site will be live from 5pm AST

About Doha Film Institute (DFI):
The Doha Film Institute (DFI) is an independent cultural organisation established in 2010 to incorporate Qatar’s film initiatives under one banner.

Located at Qatar’s new cultural hub, Katara, DFI’s many initiatives include film and television funding for MENA and international films, year-round education programs, film screenings, and the annual Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF).

In addition, DFI has established a number of strategic cultural partnerships with leading local and international organisations including Katara Cultural Village Foundation, Tribeca Enterprises, World Cinema Foundation, Maisha Film Labs and Giffoni Film Festival.

DFI was founded by H.E Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. Along with Her Excellency, DFI leadership comprises DFI Board Vice-Chair and Festival Board Chair, H.E. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Fahad Al-Thani; DFI Board Member and Festival Board Vice-Chair, H.E. Dr. Hassan Al-Nimah; DFI Board Member, Mr. Mansoor Ibrahim Al-Mahmoud; Festival Board Member, H.E. Sheikh Jabor Bin Yousuf Al Thani; and DFI Executive Director, Amanda Palmer.




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