The International Language of Film
BY ANAAM IKRAM
Watching certain movies can often leave lasting impressions on the viewers’ lives. They can walk away from the film feeling a range of emotions that can transform their outlook on life from that point on. For award-winning filmmaker, Mohammed Rashid Buali, it wasn’t just the message a film was giving but the combined elements that made a film, which fascinated him. Intrigued by the art, symbolism, philosophy and depth which films use to enhance the storytelling medium and fuelled by his passion for films, Buali delved into the world of filmmaking.
Starting his career in the film industry as an observer, Buali’s first experience in film was working as a popcorn and ticket vendor in the cinema. “I wanted to understand how people viewed the cinema and see their reactions after they see a film” he says. At the time Buali says, he was unable to pursue film making as an education as there was no industry in the region to return to and decided to enrol in Law school. Buali held onto his dream of making inspirational films and taught himself everything about the industry from script writing to moviemaking, seeking assistance from experts in the field. Working in close association with his friend, renowned scriptwriter Fareed Ramadan, Buali produced his first short film in 2005, Between Them. Buali credits Ramadan for encouraging him to take the step and produce the short as Buali was hesitant having never set foot on a film set before that. “I understood cinema, but I did not understand the production of cinema”, he said. The film went onto garner success at the Emirates Film Competition in Abu Dhabi in 2006, which further fuelled Buali’s interest in producing films. From then on, he said, he has continued to work on films resulting in an impressive body of work thus far.
My first reaction after I finished shooting was, ‘this is the first and last film I am ever going to do’. It is not an easy thing to create films.
Captivating the essence of growing up as a local in Bahrain, Buali has produced over eight short films and documentaries to date, but his foray into filmmaking almost came to a standstill shortly after the completion of his first short film. “My first reaction after I finished shooting was, ‘this is the first and last film I am ever going to do’. It is not an easy thing to create films”, he said, but the outpour of praise from audiences at the film festivals and screenings encouraged him to not give up on his dream. “It’s like you forget all the pain and suffering and all the problems you went through during production. Those may be the worst moments of your life, but the positive reactions are some of the happiest moments you enjoy later”, he said. Comfortably working in all genres of film, Buali said he draws inspirations from his own life for a film story. He depicts fragments of himself through his characters and as they develop throughout his film. He stressed he only ever follows through with a film idea if he knows it is something the audience and himself can relate to.
He added his films serve as a timeline of what he was going through at the time of production, a map of his journey to where he is today. “I am not the kind who regrets his movies, I learn from them because I know that when I made the film, I was in a certain phase of my life and producing a specific film was the right thing for me to do”, he said. Having worked with the likes of Abbas Kiarostami,– for whom he directed and produced Under The Sky – Buali’s work includes a number of award winning short films such as Absence, The Good Omen, Canary and Reclaim, which was the winner of the Golden Lion for the 12th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale Di Venezia 2010.
Buali’s biggest and most prized project to date is his first feature film, The Sleeping Tree. Around 9 years in the making, Buali said the film represents not only the story of his life, but also that of his family. Buali said he waited this long in his filmmaking career to produce the feature as he was waiting for the right moments and story to deliver his emotions, thoughts and feelings. “When I found myself in this story, I knew I wanted to make this feature. If I only make one feature movie, it’s this is the one. I wanted it to have the ‘real’ me in it and that is why it was surprising for those who saw this film to see me in a different light”, he said. Like all of Buali’s films, The Sleeping Tree is also in Arabic and was first screened at the 2014 Dubai International Film Festival to rave reviews. As part of the launch of the film worldwide, Buali’s film has been screened in various film festivals, including a premiere show in Bahrain in September. Buali’s commitment to the project over the years saw him finish the film and turn it into a success.
As part of contributing to the growing Bahraini cinema, Mohammad Buali and Fareed Ramadan have also set up their own production house, Nooran Pictures. Established in 2008, the production house was set up to aid Buali’s filmmaking career but over time has expanded into helping young filmmakers in Bahrain by providing them with the right equipment and training to polish their skills and enhance their abilities. “The establishment of cinema needs someone to take care of it and we are doing it through Nooran Pictures to help the young filmmakers”, he said. Last year, Nooran Pictures produced around 9 short films for the young filmmakers as well as taking on board 70 Bahrainis who had never worked on a film set before and sent aspiring filmmakers to take courses for script writing. “We are trying to set up this platform because I did not have it when I was growing up and I would not like to see anyone else go through what I did when I was starting out”, he said.
When starting his career, Buali said some of the challenges he faced were due to not having a strong film industry in the region. This he said, meant there were issues in both pre-production and post-production as there were not enough people to fulfil the roles. To find the right team that can deliver your vision, and make cinema, he said, was one of his biggest obstacles. Additionally on set, Buali said, there are mishaps that happen on a daily that even he cannot be prepared for. “Sometimes when you are headed to the set”, he said, “you think of all the incidents that might occur and how you will deal with them, but then something completely new happens and I am left there wondering ‘is there anything else left for me to witness?” Adding part of the charm of working in the film industry is that everyday is a surprise.
Cinema is open to any form of interpretation and therefore Buali said he does not ask audiences to seek any specific messages in his film, rather have them decide what to take away from his films. Urging audiences to show support to the Bahraini cinema, Buali said because the film industry in region is quite young, it is necessary to nourish it by helping the new players in the market. For up and coming filmmakers, Buali said it is important they take the role seriously as it is not an easy journey. He also said that one of the best ways to learn is by watching a lots of movies by varied and different directors to learn tips from them, adding “sometimes watching work by those you don’t like, you can learn more”. Throughout his career, Buali strived and succeeded in sharing with the world his remarkable films and added,
For more information on Nooran Pictures:
(00973) 3663 1661
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