Bassam Al Thawadi, 46, who lives in Janabiya with his wife Dunia Al Wazzan, a jewellery designer, is credited for having made the first feature film of Bahrain – Al-Hajiz (The Barrier) in 1990.
In 2004, he made Za’er (Visitor) – the first Dolby sound system production in the Gulf. His last film Hekaya Bahrainiya (A Bahraini Tale) was produced in 2006. Reporter Anasuya Kesavan, right, went to meet the movie man of Bahrain. Film review source: www.imdb.com
Bassam Al Thawadi is in love with films and is passionate about film-making.
He has a library of 800 films from around the world and has great respect for filmmakers such as Mira Nair, Aparna Sen, Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, Khalid Al Hajab and Noori Abu Zaid.
He said: “Cinema is like a dream. You switch the lights off and the pictures come to life.”
His love story with film-making began as a young boy in 1968 when he bought his first camera for 500 fils. In a couple of years he sold all his treasured comics to buy a better camera for BD6.
In 1975, while working as a public relations officer at the Ministry of Interior his colleague got a free camera, projector and screen. The colleague, who did not know how to operate the equipment, sold it to Mr Thawadi for BD60.
It is with this camera that he made his first movie Faithful with a couple of Thai part-time actors who worked at a restaurant in Jashanmal. They were silent films.
In 1978, Mr Thawadi made enough money to buy a projector with sound and made three more films – Brother, Blind and Generation. Realising his passion for film-making, Mr Thawadi went to Cairo in 1982 to learn film-making and produced several 16mm films.
In 1985, he joined Bahrain Television and produced several mini-series, commentaries and programmes. He is now with the Ministry of Information and is most appreciative of Dr Mohammad Abdul Gaffar, Bahrain’s information minister, who encourages Mr Thawadi to make more films on Bahrain and is planning an international film festival in Bahrain in 2008.
Mr Thawadi has been a member of the Bahrain Film Club since 1985. He was the head of the club from 1988 to 2003. The club located in Juffair, has screened social films every week without a break for the last 27 years. The club also organises courses on film-making every year.
“I enjoy film-making in Bahrain. It’s a virgin area. There are lots of stories to tell. As a film-maker I am very lonely and I desire more challenges. I want more Bahrainis to join this industry and make films.
“The key of a good film is its script which can be either good or bad. Everything else – equipment, a good cast and crew can be bought with money,” he said.
“I want to use cinema as a weapon to defend our culture and communicate to the world. My last film A Bahraini Tale is doing its rounds in the international festivals. It is being screened in New Delhi and Algeria in July; in Morocco, Hawaii and Los Angeles in the coming months.
“It has already been screened in the international festivals in Dubai, New York and Rotterdam. Every time the film gets screened, the world knows Bahrain better and as a film-maker that is all that I desire,” he said.