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Bridging the cultural gap

David Light
Filed on December 15, 2009

Her Majesty Queen Noor Al Hussein addressed the Cultural Bridge panel, whose focus this year was to discuss the media’s role in shaping and influencing cultural opinions

After this year’s Cultural Bridge gala film Budrus had premiered and the appreciative audience had cheered for the protagonists from the West Bank village who were present at the screening, focus quickly shifted to a discussion as to how the media can help or hinder social advancement and cultural harmony.

The discussion was prompted by Budrus’ subject matter, which shed light on a peaceful protest organised by the inhabitants of a Palestinian village against the proposed construction of an Israeli separation barrier through their land. Being one of only a handful of films to highlight the peaceful measures taken by some Palestinian resistance movements, it was a fitting movie to base the discussion upon as its mandate was to prove to the world that not all citizens living amongst the conflict resort to violence.

At the event, described by DIFF Chairman Abdul Hamid Juma as the “centrepiece” of the DIFF calendar, Her Majesty Queen Noor Al Huseein addressed the audience and panel, which included director of Budrus Julia Bacha, Hollywood producer Mike Medavoy and MIT Professor Rebecca Saxe.

Author of the recently released book American Idol after Iraq, a look into how the American media is now responsible for restoring America’s reputation in the world, Mike Medavoy is also the producer behind films including All the King’s Men and Miss Potter. Rebecca Saxe is a specialist in cognitive science and studies the neural and psychological basis of social cognition; focusing on the development of the social brain. She was there to discuss the science behind people’s neurological reactions to what they see on screen and how their attitudes change to the subject matter. Moderating the discussion was Shamil Idriss, the former UN Deputy Director of Office of Alliance of Civilizations.

Queen Noor chairs the King Hussein Foundation and King Hussein Foundation International, which through its humanitarian vision promotes education, tolerance, cross cultural dialogue and media which enhance such activities. “Budrus is a wonderful example of the power of the media to touch us in profound ways, challenge our preconceived notions and open our hearts and just maybe our minds,” she said.

Queen Noor was present for the entire screening of Budrus and praised Julia Bacha for her work. She stated it was films like these that highlight the real voices of people rather than news channels with political agendas. She added with the advent of Arabic language news channels broadcast in the West more has been done to demystify the Arab world, but films like Julia’s and its production company Just Vision were essential to open dialogue and facilitate understanding.

david@khaleejtimes.com


 
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