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A window into lives of special people

Rising interest in cinema worldwide is also helping raise awareness about disabilities, but there is still a way to go, says Minister of Social Affairs Maryam Al Roumi.

By Sarah Young

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Published: Fri 22 Mar 2013, 8:58 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 8:28 AM

The We Care Film Festival 2013 award ceremony was held at the Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs on Thursday, with the minister as the chief guest. Italian songwriter and producer Benedetta Paravia also attended.

This is the first time the festival, founded in India in 2003 by Satish Kapur to offer a window into the world and issues of people with disabilities and shown in 96 other venues around the world, has been held in the UAE. The minister said this was a great way to raise awareness and the perfect forum, considering rising interest in cinema all over the world.

“(Films) are becoming much more professional, intensive ... talking about society, about people, about humanity. This is very important — everybody goes to the cinema nowadays — and this festival will teach people more about disability issues and problems.”

She said it was very important to bring the festival to Dubai and the UAE, considering the region was always hosting big events, and she was sure the festival would grow.

Giving support to films such as these would promote more awareness about disabilities, and help foster more inclusion within society — one of the ministry’s long-term objectives, she said.

Inclusion was a “package” including employment, education, raising awareness, prevention, training and rehabilitation. One of the biggest challenges in the region facing the disabled was opportunities for those with hearing impairments, “because they can’t communicate with others”, she said.

“It’s easier for visually impaired and physically disabled, although there’re still big difficulties. Even if you included (hearing impaired) within those normal schools, they still have to communicate with sign language, and not too many people have that knowledge.”

Al Noor director Isphana Al Khatib said more depth of awareness was still needed in the UAE.

“We need to focus on the nuances (of disabilities), not just the fact they exist.”

Kurt Barreto and Adam Smadi won the 30-minute film category for their ‘Little Feet’, described as ‘the story of a little man who used the obstacles he faced as platforms to step on high’. Their message was simple: “It’s difficult to not judge a book by its cover but we need to put that aside and see the person for how they are, not what they look like.”

First place in the five-minute category went to mechanical engineering students Al Ammel Abdul Azeez and Kamalesh Keserker for their film ‘Terminal’.

Azeez said their film, which explored the loneliness and isolation experienced by a terminally ill patient receiving treatment, was inspired by a random photo they saw on Facebook. It was shot and edited only over two days.

The festival, featuring 19 films, runs until today at Al Noor VOX Cinemas. For details, visit dubaifilmfest.com/en/audience/events/we-care-film-festival.

sarah@khaleejtimes.com



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