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Films of The Middle East: Sounds of Oud

December 25, 2011

With the current film “Beirut Hotel” being censored in Lebanon earlier on in the month – yet another fail on behalf of the Lebanese censoring committee – I think its good to shed light on many other films coming in the MENA region.  Here’s the thing. I am all for the freedom of expression in the Middle East, simply because it’s what this region is trying its very hardest to achieve. But besides that, and besides the idea of freedom of expression and so on, I believe the culture of the region (or various cultures) are all beautiful in so many ways. Sharing them with the world really is a must – especially for a region so greatly misunderstood.

I decided to do a feature on a film that came my way. However, if you have an suggestions for any other films or musicians in the Middle East/North Africa region that you feel need recognition, pass it my way in the comments and I would gladly look into them!

Sounds of Oud scene

With that said, a very intriguing film was brought to my attention by a very dear friend of mine. Now this film has caught my attention for more than one reason, primarily because it is a Yemeni film. It seems that in the Middle East, Lebanese and Egyptian films always get the recognition (which are deserving, don’t get me wrong), when our neighbors around us all are producing awesome films as well. Personally, I have never watched a Yemeni film (or Arab film directed by a Yemeni), so I find the idea of  it to be a breathe of fresh air. So back to the main point of this post. Arie [@Dilmunite] contacted me about the film early on last week. Let me give you the gist of what its all about. A Middle Eastern couple moves to New York City to start a new life together. You can imagine the conflicts that arise when any couple coming form a land bound by tradition, faith, and culture move to the USA. The film focuses on the wife, Rasha, and her husband Jawad. However, Rasha realizes her husband’s love does not belong to her… dun dun dun!

Another scene from Sounds of Oud

I don’t expect this film to be viewed in Lebanese theaters however. Tackling various topics from love, sex, Islam, homosexuality, and conflict of cultures – it doesn’t sound like something our censoring committee in Lebanon would approve of. Again, what a shame. However, with its release date set for some time in 2012, I hope we can fix our censorship issues by then [LOL].

The film is directed by Ibi Ibrahim [ @ibiibrahim ], who last year won the GLAAD award, and who I also expect to direct much more films in the future with great success. I have heard remarkable things about Ibi, so really, I am expecting a lot more awesome works from him. If you are like me, then music plays a big role in any film. With music by the Lebanese May Nasr and the very talented Gaida – I think music selection is just amazing.

A third scene from Sounds Of Oud

With all that said, I must point out that like any director with a new film coming out for the first time, Ibi Ibrahim seems to be short of funds to help with the finishing touches of the film. This is totally a normal thing, I am sure even the biggest of directors across the world will tell you the troubles they encountered when creating their first works. But it goes just beyond the issue of funds. Getting the word for this film [and any other film from the region] out is crucial. People need to hear about a film in order to view it, and ultimately make it a success. I know of a campaign that is set up here that was established in order to raise the needed funds to help this film pay for the final touch-ups. But, like I said, funds aren’t the only thing that matters. Share information about the film, let people expect it.

Sounds of Oud scene

I think the primary point of this post is, well, we really have a lot of talent, and we really have a lot to show the world about our region, our lives, and the problems we share with the globe as a whole. Film is an expression of oneself, a people, emotions, and ideas – and we have some pretty good ones floating about. Nadine Labaki is one fine example of how the Arab world shone and continues to shine in film. So lets put more of that talent out there. Hollywood’s getting old and dry, and we have a lot of untapped topics that we can share ;). So, soon enough this film will be out and hopefully it will be screened in theaters where you live. Give it a watch.

Sounds of Oud trailer: http://vimeo.com/27066055
Sounds of Oud Facebook Page:  http://www.facebook.com/soundsofoud [photos in this post all came from here]

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