Between Two Banks
United Arab Emirates / 1999 / Arabic / Color / Video / 20 min

Director: Nujoom Al Ghanem
Script: Khalid Bader
Photography: Les Swift
Sound: Mabrouk Achrir
Editing: John Joseph
Music: Mohammed Haddad
Production, Source: The Cultural Foundation
P.O.Box 2380, Abu-Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Phone: 9712-211323
Fax: 9712-210205
E-mail: masoudak@ns1.cultural.org.ae

Nujoom Alghanem

Born in 1962. Worked as a journalist from 1980 to 1993, writing and presenting radio and TV programs for UAE Radio and Television Dubai. Obtained degree in video production from Ohio University in 1996. Master of Arts in media production from the School of Film at Griffith University, Australia. Wrote and directed two short films: Ice-cream (1997) and The Park (1997). Published four poetry books in Arabic: Evening of Paradise (1989; Bahrain), Sins (1991; Bahrain), Journeyings (1995; Lebanon), Homes of Pomegranates (1999; Lebanon).

An old man talks about his life as the only remaining ferry boatman of Dubai Creek. Motor boats and cargo ships now rush past his wooden row boat, rocking it like a leaf. With the modern development of the wharf, he can no longer find places to park his boat for his customers to disembark.

Director's Statement
For more than 11 years, I worked as a journalist. During that time, I once interviewed a Dubai ferry boatman and found that his life was quite interesting. Then for some reasons, I decided to change careers. I spent about six years between America and Australia studying video and then film. When the time came to produce my final MA project, I recalled the old dream to make a film centering around a ferry boatman. I was also completely happy to make a film based on my culture, after all those years of being out of the country.
My husband, who majored in screenwriting, suggested he do the research and write the script. He started looking for the boatman and found out there was only one local man who still worked in the boat rowing business. We thought that he must be the same person that I had interviewed long ago and we kept dealing with him as such.
But because of social barriers in our society that prevent men from talking about their family, we failed to get the boatman to talk about his family or reveal any personal information. I felt frustrated because this might weaken the story and make the boatman seem unsympathetic or as if he had no friends.
We started filming anyway, and on the third day of shooting, I insisted on visiting the boatman at his home. Fortunately, the boatman began to open up. Yet he refused to let us film more than his own room.
In the end, we were satisfied with our results. The most important part was when we discovered that the boatman was not the one I had interviewed years ago. Even though it was not the same boatman, the work did not turn out too badly.
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COPYRIGHT:Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Organizing Committee