Omar Al-Qattan (printable version)

 

CONTACT ADDRESS
Sindibad Films Ltd
5 Princes Gate
London SW7 1QJ
Office Phone: 020 78 23 74 88
Office Fax: 020 78 23 91 37
E-mail:
omar@sindibad.co.uk

PERSONAL INFORMATION
Born in Beirut, Lebanon on May 4, 1964


SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS
Starting in 1991, produced a full-length feature film in a war situation, leading a crew of thirty people in three languages; directed or produced different types of films, from fiction to non-fiction shorts, medium-format and full-length features with contrasting styles (vérité, docu-fiction, fiction and historical documentary), almost all of which have involved a complex international co-production deal. Has solid training in filmmaking and a rich knowledge of the art form. Fluent written and spoken English, French and Arabic. Strong understanding of both production and artistic issues, which often makes it easier to follow one's artistic instincts and keep within budget!

In 1996, founded Sindibad Multimedia, which produced pioneering educational CD-ROMs in Arabic.

Since 1998, while continuing to work in film, joined family to found the A.M.Qattan Foundation, which has become Palestine's leading independent cultural and educational organisation. As well as sitting on the Foundation's Board, launched and directed from 1999 to 2004 its Culture and Science Programme. In 2004, designed and launched its Palestinian Audio-visual Programme, a 640,000 euro, three-year investment programme in film and television co-funded with the European Union.

In 2005, joined family construction business in Kuwait in a non-executive capacity. The company, <a href="http://www.alhanikw.com" class="linkBLge" target="_blank"><font size="-2">Al-Hani Construction and Trading Co.</font></a>is over 42 years old and a leader in large-scale public works projects.

EDUCATION
1982-85 B.A. English Language and Literature, Oxford University (2.1)
1985-89 Higher Diploma (equivalent to B.A.) in film directing, INSAS, Brussels

FILMS
1987
Je suis...tu es?, (15 mins, documentary, 16mm)

1988
La Danse (20 mins, drama, 16mm)

Founded Sourat Films sprl (Brussels) with Michel Khleifi and Jacqueline Louis.

1989
Conte de l'Aveugle et du Paralytique, (15mins, drama, 16mm). This tale, which won a screen-writing competition and was commissioned by the Atelier de Réalisation in Brussels, combines the Biblical parable of the Blind Man and the Paralytic with a bawdy joke. Set in the surreal landscape of deserted factories in a Brussels suburb, it tells of the meeting of two fantastical characters who are inhabited both by the loneliness of Modern Man as well as the Spirit of Falstaff. During one evening, they experience events that temporarily lift them out of the cruel and strange world around them.

1990
Associate Producer on Cantique des Pierres (Official Selection, Un Certain Regard, Cannes 1990) dir. Michel Khleifi.

1990-91
Director/Producer on Dreams & Silence (52mins, documentary, 16mm). Shot during the weeks preceding the Gulf War, the film is a portrait of a Palestinian woman refugee in Jordan and her struggles with the religious and social constraints around her at a time of great tension and anguish. JORIS IVENS AWARD, 1991. Broadcast on FR 3 (France), RTBF (Belgium), NRK (Norway), IKON TV (Holland), Finland and Australia.

1991
Founded Sourat UK, (which became Sindibad Films Ltd in 1993)

1992
Co-producer L'Ordre du Jour, a full-length feature in French with Robin Renucci and Michael Lonsdale, dir. Michel Khleifi.

1993
JVC World Music Library - Palestine. Produced and directed video archives of Palestinian music

1994-1995
Executive Producer on Tale of the Three Jewels, dir. Michel Khleifi. The film, which premiered in Cannes 1995, was the first ever feature to be entirely shot in the (then) Occupied Gaza Strip. Originally commissioned as a 50-minute drama for BBC 2, we decided to make a full-length version with the same budget, eventually attracting co-funding from the Ministry of Culture in Belgium and La Sept/Arte. Apart from a successful international theatrical career, the film has won several international prizes.

1995
Executive Producer, Forbidden Marriages in the Holy Land, a 66 minute documentary directed by Michel Khleifi on the subject of mixed marriages between Arabs and Jews in Palestine/Israel - in association with the Med-Media Program of the EU.


Director, Going Home (52mins, documentary, Betacam). This is the story of Major Derek Cooper, an British ex-army major who witnessed the last days of the Mandate in Palestine. The film takes him back to Palestine/Israel where he meets veterans and refugees, as the Peace Process looks set to collapse. Broadcast on Channel 4 as well as Planète TV, France/Germany/Italy. Produced by André Singer, Café Productions

1998
Jerusalem (25 mins, promotional documentary, Betacam). A look at the Welfare Association's (a Swiss-based charity) work to help the Palestinians in Jerusalem. The film was used to fundraise during a three-day telethon. The event's takings reached an unprecedented $23m.

1999
Homesick, a feature-length film screenplay based on the novel by Tony Hanania (Bloomsbury, 1997). Co-written with the novelist.

2000
Co-produced Rachel Leah Jones' 500 Dunam on the Moon, a fifty-two minute documentary on the story of the Palestinian village of Ein Houd - broadcast on France 2, Spring 2003.


Amal, My Star -( as producer) a full-length screenplay by Michel Khleifi on the life of the Egyptian/Syrian singer, spy and seductress, Asmahan.

2000-2002
Muhammad, Legacy of a Prophet (completed) - director. A two-hour documentary for American Television (PBS), produced by award-winning Kikim Media. This ambitious bio-epic was filmed in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Jerusalem, London and the US. It involved both vérité-style filming, as well as extensive lyrical reconstruction (not of historical events, so much as the use of contemporary rituals and realities to evoke events in the Prophet's life), with substantial interviews and portraits of Muslim Americans. My work spanned the first treatments, shooting scripts, location scouting, production planning, and the Super 16mm shoots (from the ground and the air!). Broadcast to great acclaim on PBS December 18 2002.

2002
Midwest/ Midwest Field – executive producer. Two video art films on 16mm by Rosie Nashashibi, filmed in Omaha, Nebraska. In collaboration with the Scottish Arts Council. The films were among Nashashibi's four works which won the 2003 Beck's Futures Award .

Diary of an Art Competition (Under Occupation): Completed. A seventeen minute video diary of an arts exhibition organised under curfew. (See related article: here )

2003 - 2004
Welfare Association 20th Anniversary Fund-raising Campaign: 1 x 2'30" fund-raising promo (completed) and 1 x 25 minute film (completed)

Route 181- Fragments of a Journey to Palestine and Israel (completed September 2003), co-producer. This is a three-part, four and half hour documentary for Arte (Germany), co-directed by Michel Khleifi and an Israeli director, Eyal Sivan, broadcast on Arte in November 2003. The film has since had wide-spread distribution, including a screening at the UN on the 58th Anniversary of the 1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine. It has also recently won the prestigious Mayor's Prize at the Yamagata International Documentary Festival in Japan.


MULTIMEDIA
1996
Founded Sindibad Multimedia Ltd, a CD-ROM publishing company

1997
Kan Ya Ma Kan, four interactive stories for children (in Arabic)

Letters Garden, an interactive CD-ROM to teach children the Arabic Alphabet

1998
Numbers Garden, an interactive CD-ROM to teach children their first maths in Arabic

Sudan - Kingdoms on the Nile, in association with L'Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris and Editions Flammarion - a reference CD-ROM to accompany the archaeological exhibition of the same name.

An A-Z of the Middle East, in association with Les Éditions de l'Atelier, Paris - the indispensable guide to today's Middle East.


CULTURAL ACTION
1998 to present day
A.M.Qattan Foundation: Originally an initiative by my parents, the Foundation has grown to become Palestine's leading independent educational and cultural institution and is almost entirely self-funded. Projects include an 80,000-volume children's library in Gaza City; an extensive prizes and awards programme in the arts and sciences and an increasingly influential Centre for Educational Research and Development. In 2004, I designed and launched (and currently direct) the Palestinian Audiovisual Project, which is co-funded with the European Union and which includes an extensive training, distribution and school film education programme over a three-year period.


PUBLICATIONS
Apart from film-writing, contributed articles in English to The New Statesman, Sight & Sound, Middle East International, CounterPunch, Opendemocracy.net & the Jordan Times, and, in Arabic, to Al-Hayat and Al-Quds Newspapers in London and Al-Ayyam in Palestine.

Coedited, as part of work in the A.M. Qattan Foundation, the following bi-lingual publications: Flowers of Palestine (with a preface by Mahmoud Darwish), a reprint of a 19th century book on the wild flowers of the Holy Land; New Horizons in Palestinian Art and Hope & the Aesthetic Moment (with Kamal Boullata), both catalogues of work by young Palestinian artists; as well as (in Arabic only) Nawafith fi Jidari Samt (Windows in a Wall of Silence), an anthology of writing, photographs and art work by a number of Palestinian women on their experiences of the second Intifada.

An essay entitled The Challenges of Palestinian Filmmaking - 1991 to 2003 was included in Dreams of A Nation (ed. Hamid Dabashi), a collection of essays on Palestinian cinema published by Verso Press in 2006.

The Secret Visitations of Memory, an essay on the Palestinian experience of dispossession, will be included in Nakba - Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory, edited by Ahmad Saadi and Lila Abu Loghod, published by Columbia University Press in April 2007.

TEACHING
2004: The Sacred and the Profane in Cinema, a one-week seminar organised in Beirut by the British Council.

2005-2006: Directed and taught directing and film history and analysis classes in the Training Programme which formed part of the Palestinian Audiovisual Project.


REFERENCES
Upon request