Talal Al-Muhanna

2017

From : Kuwait
To: Malta

Valetta Film Festival 2017

Cinema

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How did this grant contribute to the realization of your project in regard to artistic exchange, local cultural development and/or the promotion of cultural diversity?

My trip from Kuwait to Malta with the support of a Creative Tracks grant coincided with a trip made by a fellow filmmaker from Kuwait (a scriptwriter) who received a Valetta 2018 grant. We thus traveled to Malta together, in June, to attend the 3rd edition of Valetta Film Festival - thereby doubling our capacity to network and gain insights on the Maltese film scene and to share with those in Malta information about the film scene in Kuwait. Within the context of VFF, we met some of the festival organizers as well as several Maltese filmmakers specialized in writing, directing and producing. As hoped for, the conversations with Maltese filmmakers sparked creative discussion about collaborating on a film idea being written by my colleague (that is intended to be set between Kuwait and Malta) and discussion with a representative from Valetta Film Festival revealed that there was strong interest to see Kuwaiti films too. Previously, in March 2017, Maltese writer/producer Jean Pierre Magro was invited to Kuwait Film Festival to give a presentation on transmedia storytelling. Now, with further professional connections having been made in June 2017, the opportunities for exploring additional cultural exchange through film-related activities have increased. Finally, in cultural terms, it was fascinating to find the many similarities in language between Maltese and Arabic and to discover how some Maltese also have Arab, North African and Levantine roots. There was genuine cultural curiosity about Kuwait and a keen interest by Maltese filmmakers to learn more about the Kuwaiti film scene and to visit the place too.

How does exchange, networking and international contacts contribute to the development of your artistic and cultural project?

In the first place, being in Malta was artistically inspiring and soon led to new ideas being discussed about how the story for a film being written by a Kuwaiti colleague could partly be set in Malta. For another feature project - requiring a ship specially designed for filming - it became clear that such a shoot could be facilitated by Malta Film Commission as there is extensive expertise in Malta for this type of construction and filming. Thus, the exchange of ideas with Maltese filmmakers and the meeting with Malta Film Commission showed that there was interest in collaborating artistically as well as the capacity to handle elaborate projects filmed on water. The possibility of coproducing with a Maltese film production company could also mean the possibility of accessing Maltese coproduction funding. At the same time, meetings with leading cultural operators made evident that there are also opportunities for artists from Kuwait to apply for creative residencies in Malta and that there was openness to that from the organizers of various art spaces. Thus, meeting in person - to hear about these venues’ missions as well as to introduce the work of specific Kuwaiti artists - was very helpful as it allowed each one to present their programs in detail and for me to increase my knowledge of the Maltese cultural landscape and the cultural operators and opportunities within it.

Can you elaborate on the learning and knowledge you have gained and shared throughout this experience?

Though Malta has an official film policy and a long history of international production, there remain a number of similarities between the film scenes in both countries: To begin with, both are relatively small countries with small populations and thus share a low output with regard to local language cinema production/distribution. Second, serious filmmakers struggle to make a living - generally undertaking commercial work in advertising in order to support their filmmaking efforts. Third, access to national TV funding for quality projects would do much towards improving the career prospects of serious filmmakers while, possibly, increasing the prospects for international coproduction too. Fourth, the opportunities for education in cinema seem limited on both places.

Please indicate a link to your current work (website/facebook page)

http://www.linkedproductions.com




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