Dazed Digital


Documentary filmmaker Fadi Hindash

March 29, 2011

The Dubai-based Palestinian who is unafraid of courting controversy

  • Text by Simone Sebastian

With a controversial documentary entitled 'Not Quite The Taliban' under his belt and a project in production focusing on the religious schools of Pakistan, filmmaker Fadi Hindash talks to us about film funding and dealing with the thorny subjects of sex and religion in the Arab world.

Satellite Voices: As a Dubai-based filmmaker, how did you find financial support for "Not Quite The Taliban" and your current documentary feature "Men of Faith"?
Fadi Hindash
: Both films got their start at the Berlinale (the Berlin International Film Festival). "Not Quite The Taliban", with the help of my Belgian producer, was supported by the Flemish Film Fund and a Belgian broadcaster. My current project "Men of Faith" was selected for the Berlinale Talent Campus Doc Station where I managed to scout funding from Dutch and German national film funds, along with broadcasters from both countries.

SV: Has there been any local opposition to the homosexual subject matter of "Not Quite The Taliban" or to the fact that you're openly gay?
Fadi Hindash:
The film was rejected by the local festivals and, surprisingly, by regional Arab festivals like the one in Lebanon. Apart from that though, I didn't get into any trouble. I strongly believe that in Dubai, you are free to do what you want creatively.

SV: What have been some of the challenges you've had to face with shooting "Men of Faith", the documentary focused on Islamic madrasas (religious schools) in Pakistan?
Fadi Hindash:

The main challenge is always raising the funds especially when the film is international. I am of Palestinian origin, my producers are European, and the film is set in an Islamic school in Pakistan, so getting money from one source was difficult. The other main challenge was gaining the trust of the characters. As you can imagine, the world of orthodox Islam wasn't easy to get access to. The financiers wanted to know that I'd be getting to the bottom of these people, and the characters wanted to be sure that I wouldn't misrepresent them. I've had the lovely job of bridging both sides.

SV: In all your years in Dubai, have you seen any changes to the local film scene?
Fadi Hindash:
There is definitely growth in film culture and I think the Dubai Film Festival has had a lot to do with that. There are some good films being screened which has helped lift collective tastes. Despite my current base here though, my eye is on the international scene. Ultimately, as an artist in a developing country, I understand that I have to succeed internationally in order to be taken seriously back home.

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