Yemeni anti-revenge cartoon film to be creened [Archives:2005/907/Culture]

December 29 2005

A cartoon film about revenge in Yemen will be completed this January, said Ramzia Al-Eryani, Chairwoman of the Yemen Women Union. Revenge is a major problem in Yemen that hobbles development and jeopardizes social security.

Entitled “Peace Outside our Village,” the film sheds light on the detrimental impact of revenge on society in general and on girls' education in particular.

“Because of frequent revenge incidents in Yemen, especially in the eastern provinces, we used to explain the serious effect of revenge at workshops we organized,” Al-Eryani said. The union's effort focused on the effect on families and on women especially, as revenge affects mothers who lose their supporters or offspring.

She described how the idea of the film came into being. “We thought about an effective way to pass on an anti-revenge message to people, especially youngsters and youth. We decided to produce a cartoon film.”

The film originally was intended to consist of 30 sections, 15 minutes each. According to local estimates, production costs would be approximately $25,000.

But there was a problem, as there was no possibility to produce it in Yemen. “We could produce flashes, but not cartoon films,” Al-Eryani recalled. “Therefore, we contacted cartoon-producing companies in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt and Egypt's offer was the cheapest,” at $1,200 per minute.

“We could hardly believe it. This upset our plans. There was also the cost of incidental music and other technicalities.”

Instead of 30-section serials, the whole piece was reduced considerably, limited to 18 minutes.

The Yemen Women Union received $22,000 in donations and managed to collect the remaining $3,000.

The film is expected to debut the beginning of 2006 and be launched in the presence of many NGOs and donors as the first Yemeni cartoon film.

Film scenes depict Yemeni environment and culture: the design of the houses, the traditional costumes of the people, etc. The spoken language is simple Arabic, not reflecting any particular dialect, nor the very standard Arabic.

Al-Eryani said that if they get enough financial support in the future, they will do a better job next time. “Hopefully, when people see this film, they will think seriously of funding similar ones,” she added.

The film relates the story of a young girl named Salma, accompanied by a hoopoe, a symbol for Yemen. The hoopoe was the messenger of peace from King Solomon to Bilqis, the famed Queen of Sheba.

Salma lives in a revenge-torn village while the nearby village is peaceful and has a school. She goes to the vicinity of the school with her sheep and peeps into a classroom, sighing as she sees children studying.

She asks the old men in her vengeful village, “Why should we be like you? Why shouldn't we be like them (the peaceful village)?”

Her question reflects the irony of so-called wise people, who actually do not resort to justice and judiciary in connection with revenge cases.

“The film is a trial,” concluded Al-Eryani. “We hope it will be successful.”