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Crowning jewel

October 21 - 27, 2020
Gulf Weekly Crowning jewel

Gulf Weekly Naman Arora
By Naman Arora

For film director Eva Daoud, making A Vision of Promise - Salman bin Hamad is a crowning jewel in a 30-year journey that took her through the varied worlds of marketing, economics, journalism, education and film.

Born in Syria, Eva nourished her inquisitive mind with an interest in ancient history and mythology, amidst the storied streets and diverse society of Damascus.

She chose a more practical path for her formal education, completing a doctorate in marketing and economics, but her heart always belonged to film – a dream she could nurture only after moving to the sunny shores of Bahrain.

“Since childhood, a career in the film-making industry was a dream of mine, but my parents were adamant about establishing a strong academic foundation for my future prior to looking into directing,” Eva, 45, explained.

She found love in the Bahrain of the 1990s – both in her future husband and her future home.

At the turn of the millennium, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister launched the International Scholarship Programme (CPISP), taking the first step to invest in the kingdom’s wealth of young talent – a feat Eva admired from afar.

Meanwhile, she put her own dreams on hold, as she heeded the demands of a professional career and motherhood, raising two beautiful daughters, Nour and Sama.

“It was not until my husband and two daughters surprised me with an enrolment offer from the New York Film Academy (NYFA) on Mother’s Day in 2007 that finally my dream seemed possible,” she reminisced.

“I attended NYFA and learned under the tutelage of some of the best film teachers, especially my advisor Norman B. Schwarz, a key figure in Hollywood having worked with some of the best directors and actors including Steven Spielberg.

“I graduated in 2011. To date I have directed seven short films that have been invited to screen in more than 200 competitive international film festivals, garnering more than 140 nominations and wins.”

Her films have explored the realms of romance, fantasy and drama, telling tales of magic and science fiction, bringing to life the mythologies of the region.

Her past films have included A Spring Has Passed By, Yearnings and Water Genie, shot in Bahrain in 2014, 2013 and 2012 respectively, as well as The Light Thief shot in 2015 in Spain, Memories of Love filmed in Syria in 2011 and The New Cinderella in UAE in 2010.

Documentaries were still not in her repertoire when she was asked to make this film. “This was my first documentary, and that was a double-edged sword,” she explained.

“Documentaries follow a certain structural format that I had never approached before, but I knew that this would allow me to create a versatile and unique take on the challenging category.

“In taking on this project, my background in journalism came in handy. My goal was to allow the programme participants to guide the storyline by delving into their unique experiences and journeys. Their first-hand reporting provided the emotional framework that held the film together.

“Key in supporting the narrative flow was an original music score created by Jose Maria Diaz-Canel, an internationally-renowned composer which added the right emotional undertones for the storytelling.”

After the story was developed jointly with Mai Aljishi, the film was shot by an international crew from start to finish over 25 working days, with some of the scholarship participants travelling from overseas to the island for their parts. Including editing and post-production, the film took six months from conception to delivery.

Her family also became part of the project, with her daughter Nour, a physician who completed her education at RCSI Bahrain and team leader in the National Covid Response Taskforce, being promoted to assistant director. Her younger daughter, Sama, scouted locations and helped with social media while providing valuable feedback throughout the process.

As for the future, Eva said: “There are certainly several interesting stories that can be told about Bahrain and I would love to be involved in putting these into film in the near future.

“My current projects include a couple of short films that I wrote, a long feature film and a short TV mini-series.

“Of course, all of these can come to life with the support of an active film production ecosystem in Bahrain or regionally which can help bring these projects to life.”

To learn more, follow @eva.director on Instagram.

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