Cinema can bridge cultural identities


MUMBAI: The Cultural Bridge Panel held at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) saw C Bailey expressing his amazement at Dubai’s diversity. “Dubai is the perfect setting for a panel like this, because chances are, if you’re in Dubai, a cultural bridge brought you here.”

Coelho then delivered a brief but punchy keynote address where he invoked not only the image of the bridge, but the metaphor of diving. He said that only by diving deep into the common experience can humanity connect. ‘Diving’ into the idea of culture, Coelho stated: “Your culture means everything and nothing. A cultural interaction is made out of your heart.”

Each panelist had a different perspective on the central theme of the panel, the potential of cinema to bridge cultural identities. Rayda Jacobs, the novelist and filmmaker who premiered her Confessions of a Gambler at DIFF, stated that she was motivated to make a film despite having no formal training as a means of reaching out to poor South Africans who prefer television as a form of entertainment.

Gisele Khoury brought unique insight into the importance of culture with the statement that: “Lebanon is an idea, not a nation. Lebanon is an agreement between different confessions and cultures.” She spoke about the recent film Caramel and its depiction of the persistence of human joy, frailty and pettiness even in the midst of war.

Danny Glover rounded out the panel with his long cinema career that has crossed boundaries of race and nationality with ease. He stated: “The idea that I am a citizen of the world didn’t occur to me until I began to work in cinema. People now have the good fortune to reach out and find the films that they feel reflect the way they are. Cinema is bringing people together and creating another language.”

Glover produced last year’s DIFF film Bamako, by Malian director Abdurrahmane Sissako, and described working on the film as “one of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever had.” He urged filmmakers to use new distribution platforms and embrace a wider viewership in the confidence that it would meet with interest from other communities also wanting to reach out to others. Filmmaker Ahmed Maanouni seconded Glover’s call from the audience, recounting how the World Cinema Foundation restored his film Trances and showed it at Cannes this year, which has allowed him to make contact with audiences as far away as Korea and Norway.