Muscat – The Omani documentary film Long Distances won the Golden Palm Award for Gulf Film, at the 9th Saudi Film Festival, which concluded in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Thursday.
Directed by Ali al Bimani and Hamad al Qasabi, the documentary is available on the ‘Ain’ platform of the Ministry of Information, and has been made available with English subtitles to reach a wider audience.
The film is set in a remote village, located between the mountains adjacent to Wadi al Sahtan. “It showcases a special talent of an Omani girl, Suad al Nusaibiya – a shepherd, who later becomes the champion of long mountain races,” Bimani said.
He said that the festival provided a platform for extensive discussions, in addition to having specialised workshops. Qualitative films were shown throughout the eight-days of the festival.
“Filmmakers also discussed their films, and shared new developments in the field.”
Talking about the challenges, he said that the production of any documentary film is not easy, because “it requires a director to understand the story first, delve into it, study the characters and understand them”.
“In addition, you face difficulties in accessing places, filming in those areas over a long period of time. Funding for such works are also not easy to come by.”
Bimani believes the win is ‘well deserved’, as the film found a wide acceptance in the festival, and was praised by many Gulf critics; Arab and non-Arab filmmakers.
“One of our greatest achievements is that our film inspired many to visit the sultanate and explore its beautiful environment, culture and the people.”
Bimani expressed the need for such films, and pointed out the urgency to capture various facets of Oman and the stories that are abound.
“We were able to communicate with the film and its unique environment and components to a very wide range of filmmakers, writers and media professionals in the region, who in turn were inspired by the film to visit the sultanate,” said Bimani.
The Saudi Film Festival aims to encourage quality screenplays and production of great films in the region. It also seeks to expand the scope of such festivals to include a broader range of Arab and international productions.
The festival held under the theme ‘The Comedy’ had 78 films on display within 48 screening groups, and four groups for children.