Looking for Yemeni Actresses [Archives:2001/09/Last Page]

February 26 2001

After completing shooting his second film in Yemen, “Socotra Dragon Blood Island” a Yemeni-British film-maker left Yemen last week for Saudi Arabia where he is going to shoot a film on Hajj. After that he will be attending the Arab Screen Independent Film Festival sponsored by Al-Jazeerah in Qatar. 
Badr Ben Hirsi was born in London in 1968 to Yemeni parents. He did a Masters in drama production when he was 25. Then he worked for different film companies concentrating on films and photography about Europe or America. He noticed that the films or programs he saw about Yemen always showed the bad side. When he came to Yemen for the first time 6 years ago he realized that Yemen was completely different from what the west says in it’s newspapers or televisions. 
As to change the bad image of Yemen in the west, he contacted Tim Mackintosh-Smith, author of ‘Yemen: Travels in Dictionary Land’ who has been living as a Yemeni in the ancient city of Sana’a for the past 17 years and decided to make ‘The English Sheikh & the Yemeni Gentleman’ which aims at introducing the real Yemen to the audience. Socotra Dragon Blood Island focuses on Socotra yesterday, today and tomorrow. This film will be ready next summer. Next year, he will be shooting another film about ancient Yemen. Contacts have been made with the National Geographic Channel and Al-Jazeerah to help with these films.He also expressed his ambitions to start up a Yemeni Film Institute in Sana’a in the coming years to help Yemeni film-makers with 2-3 year courses in film-making, directing, producing, editing, acting, scriptwriting, etc. 
Among his plans is to shoot feature films in Yemen. However, the lack of Yemeni actresses may delay these plans. So far there has been one Yemeni woman trained as an actress in London who showed full readiness to act. But there is still a need for more. 
Ben Hirsi hopes that the Yemeni authorities concerned will think seriously about Yemeni film making and understand that this is one way of changing the image of Yemen in the west.