History of Cinema in KUWAIT

Historical overview

Britain oversaw foreign relations and defense for the ruling Kuwaiti AL-SABAH dynasty from 1899 until independence in 1961. Kuwait was attacked and overrun by Iraq on 2 August 1990. Following several weeks of aerial bombardment, a US-led, UN coalition began a ground assault on 23 February 1991 that liberated Kuwait in four days. Kuwait spent more than $5 billion to repair oil infrastructure damaged during 1990-91.

History of cinema from 1896-2000

Kuwait has hardly any cinematic history. In the early days of cinema, Kuwait was still a poor country where strong family bonded tribes roaming the sand. After the oil explosion with all its financial prospect Kuwait build a film watching instead of a film producing industry. In 1954, the Al-Sharqiah Cinema was the first theater in Kuwait, accommodating 1000 persons. The theater was open-air during summer and covered with tent fabric during winter. Two years later, other theaters were operational including Hawalli (open-air), Fahaheel (open-air), Ferdows and Al Hamra. Subsequently, all current theaters came into operation.

In 1972 the first (and until now, 2003, last) Kuwaiti film was produced. Kuwaiti Khalid Al-Siddiq produced Bas ya Bahar (The Cruel Sea), about the pre-oil life of pearl divers; his second was The Wedding Of Zein (1976), based on the novel by Sudanese writer, Tayeb Saleh. The Wedding Of Zein won an award at the Cannes Film festival in 1976. Khalid Al-Siddiq's The Cruel Sea, acknowledged as a masterpiece, provoked passionate controversy on its release in 1972. Set in Kuwait prior to the discovery of oil, Sea is about pearl-divers who live on the fringes of an impassive sea. Said dives for the largest pearl so he can marry a woman from a wealthy family. The film contains some violent scenes, among the most accusatory in Arab cinema. The Cruel Sea savagely criticizes a feudal mercantile society deeply entrenched in its privileges, the condition of women, and he hold of religion.

Today Kuwaiti cinema is still down to an absolute minimum. Al-Siddiq chairs the Gulf Filmmakers' Association, established in 2000. This organization tries to promote Arabic film.

"We are now trying to bring them [Arabic filmmakers] together under the umbrella of the Gulf Filmmakers' Association to give momentum to filmmaking in the region."
Khalid Al-Siddiq in Gulf News.

Cinema links from KUWAIT

Kuwait National Cinema Company The sole organization in Kuwait with governmental exclusivity to provide entertainment services through cinema theaters throughout Kuwait.
Q80 Extensive site offering the latest news, includes information about movies

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