First American participation at the Damascus film festival
Syria-USA, Culture, 11/7/2001
" For the first time in the history of the Damascus Film festival that the US is participating in the current 12th Damascus Film festival. And this is largely because of the cooperation between the US embassy in Damascus and the Syrian ministry of Culture," said Mark Andrew Schapiro cultural affairs officer at the American Cultural Center in Damascus in a statement to Arabic News.
He noted that the Syrian national film organization was extremely helpful and very enthusiastic and really wants to so some thing very big and international.
Something that would put the Damascus film festival on the same level of the world 'd top film festivals.
Mr. Schapiro explained that the American participation at the Damascus 12th film festival is within two groups of films. The first are some 16 studio films which the Syrian national film organization directly obtained through the distributors in Lebanon and this is a normal way of exchanging films in the world. He continued that the second group of films are brought in contacts directly with the US under the name of " American independent films ). He added that independent films are films produced at an independent budget by individual artists and directors. He continued that the American independent films traditionally represent a more free form of expression because they are not forced to conform to Hollywood norms. He said that one of these films is called " Memento," produced in 2000. It is " our official entry to the festival's competition and it was shown on Tuesday, November 6 at al-Shaam Cinema II hall..
Schapiro went on that six American films are taking part in the retrospective of the American independent cinema. They are " Antirust," " Girlight," Grateful Dawg, Songcatcher, The Winslow Boy and Limbo.
Explaining the will to strengthen cultural ties with Syria, Mr. Schapiro said:" we always wanted to be involved, but the real reason that we this time enjoy such wonderful co-operation is because the Syrian film festival is much larger and more international event is really because of the chairman of the Syrian film organization Muhammad al-Ahmad and the people work with him," noting that al-Ahmad is the right persons in the right place at the right time, who all as a group represents a fresh spirit and an international cultural vision.
He said that the other American films taking part at the current Damascus film festival range from romantic themes, action, fantasy. He said that there is a fairly wide range of themes represented. All reflect the diversity of America.
Highlighting cultural relations between the two countries, Mr. Schapiro said:" in terms of cultural co-operation between the USA and Syria, I am extremely optimistic about the future. There is tremendous enthusiasm and desire for cultural initiatives, English language programs and educational changes." He concluded such co-operation relations allow us to understand each other better. And this is our best bridge towards the future in a confused and troubled world.
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