ⓘ Cinema of Kuwait


ⓘ Cinema of Kuwait

The Cinema of Kuwait was dependent on importing their films from foreign countries and showing them in the Kuwaiti theatres. American imperialism was a serious problem in the formation of Arab cinema in general and cinema of Kuwait in particular. This act caused the absence of the real personality and character of a Kuwaiti culture and history. However, Kuwaitis tried to preserve their national identity by producing and broadcasting local content in their television channels. Which was a balance between protecting and preserving their national identity while also satisfying other preferences. The domination of American films and other foreign produced films has the Kuwaiti cinema imitate and depend on it for so long. It was in 1971 that the young talent of Khalid Alsidiqq that emerged and directed the first Kuwaiti feature film that talks about its cultural heritage and history.

Although Kuwait is a country that depends heavily on importing movies, they did not abandon their culture and tradition. Sensitive topics, phrases and scenes are removed. If the movie contains an abundance of these type of offensive or obscene content they rather cancel the whole movie from the cinemas.

In 1972, Kuwait produced their first feature film Bas ya Bahr The Cruel Sea. Which talks about pre-oil discovery life and when fishing was a predominant occupation. This initiated the film industry in Kuwait as it was one of the most famous and acknowledged feature film at that era. In 1976, Kuwait produced its second feature film The Wedding of Zain In The Gulf region, Kuwait considered as the birthplace of Khaleji culture and film industry.

In the cinematic history of Kuwait there were few female actress who had a prominent role in shaping the cinema today. One of them is Hayat Al Fahad. She is one of the prominent Kuwaiti actresses in the industry, she also participated in the first feature Kuwaiti film Bas Ya Bahr. And Souad Abdullah who is considered an iconic actress who had a prominent role in shaping the Kuwaiti cinema today.

In 1954 Kuwait National Cinema Company was established. Being the first leading entertainment company in Kuwait and in the Gulf. Moreover, in 2005 it released its Cinematic brand and theatre in the country, Cinescape. Cinescape created an environmental space for the audience to experience films in five different experiences with different features to its experience. Kuwait was the first country in the Middle east and the second worldwide after Australia to ease M-NET payment, making the audiences experiences in Cinescape effortless and easy.


1. History

Cinema in Kuwait was affected by the dominance of Hollywood on the cinematic world as most of the portrayed films were American made. It was dominated with Western movies, while the local television channels was dominated widely with Kuwaiti made movies and television series. Most of its portrayed films were in foreign languages imported from other countries. There is a clear dominance of Hollywood movies in Kuwaiti theaters. On average, the percentage of American movies are 80 percent, while other movie content produced by countries such as Egypt, India and Britain never exceeded 38 percent of the movies premiered. In a period of eight weeks only once a Kuwaiti made movie was shown in the cinemas. This is due to the fact that Kuwait is a rather small country that is saturated with expatriates. The domination of American film and other foreign produced films has the Kuwaiti cinema imitate and depend on it for so long. It was in 1971 that the young talent of Khalid Alsidiqqi that emerged and directed the first Kuwaiti feature film that talks about its cultural heritage and history.

Kuwait began producing their own television content in 1961, which was early comparing to other countries in the region, thus it instantly gained popularity and admiration from surrounding gulf countries. This drove them forward to launch their own satellite. KTV 1 is one of the oldest television broadcast channels established in Kuwait. The Kuwaiti satellite was able to cover the gulf and reach further regions such as North America, which was difficult to accomplish at that time period in 1997. They had a vision which was" to spread Kuwaiti produced news, information, and cultural programming all around the globe.” P.434. they wanted to share their culture and convey it to other nationalities. Kuwait was and still named عروسة الخليج’ which translated to The Bride of The Gulf, this nickname was initiated by the Gulf countries to Kuwait for its history in films and music, etc. Kuwait is the birthplace of film in the Gulf, it was not until the release of Bas ya Bahr that it was recognized and known by Khalejis for its films and their artistry in showing the cultural and heritage of the Kuwaiti citizens and the Khaleji community in general.


1.1. History Bas ya Bahr The Cruel Sea 1972

Bas ya Bahr a film produced in Kuwait, directed by Khalid Alsiddiq, young and talented, showcased his skills through the movie. It is significant because it is Kuwaits first feature film. Actors who had a prominent role in the movie were Mohammed Al-Mansour, Amal Bakr, Saad Al-Faraj and Hayat El-Fahad. The film was in black and white and its duration was an hour and 41 minutes. Before the drastic changes that took place in Kuwait due to the discovery of oil, pearl diving was one of the main income sources people had. The events happen to a typical Kuwaiti family, a young man seeks to marry the girl he loves" Nura” however many obstacles come in his way. The first issue is that he does not have enough money to propose thus her father stands in their way. He wants to marry off his daughter to someone with a decent amount of money in possession." Moussaed” insisting on his decision to pearl dive finds his father also preventing him from diving, fearful of the many dangers in the sea that his son could come across. Eventually his father allows him to pursue what he wants. Moussaed excessively trying hard to obtain the pearls lead to his death. In his final dive, he found a huge pearl that was taken to his family as a gesture of his braveness and determination. His mother then goes to sea with grief and sorrow in her heart and yells" Bas ya Bahr” which translates in to" enough of sea”. It was the first Kuwait produced film that reached the 45th Academy Awards as Best Foreign Language film, however, it was not nominated.


1.2. History Urs AL-Zayn The Wedding of Zein 1976

It is the second feature film to be produced in Kuwait, it was directed by the famous Kuwaiti director Khalid Alsiddiq. This film was based on a novel of the same name Urs Al-Zayn or The Wedding of Zein by Al-Tayyib Saleh. The film cast who were prominent in the film are Ali Mahdi as Zein, Ibrahim Hujazi as Haneen and Tahiya Zaroug as Nama. The film duration was 90 minutes and it was their first color film to be produced in Kuwait. The film talks about Zein who is perceived as an amiable buffoon clown by the village people, as his declaration for loving the village maidens brings nothing but laughs to the village. But to Haneen, a Muslim holy man, he has genuine pity and peace for Zein. As well as the young beautiful girl in the village who sees the most in Zein than other villagers.

In 1978, Kuwait submitted the film to the 51st Academy Awards as representative for Best Foreign Language film category, but it did not get nominated and Kuwait has not submitted another film since.


1.3. History Drive-in Cinema

Kuwait pioneered in delivering a different and unique cinema experience in the Gulf region, they built a couple of drive-in cinemas. The only country in the Gulf region with that kind of cinema. Families, friends and even individuals could stop by and watch a movie while sitting comfortably in their cars. The major drive-in cinema was set up on the Sixth ring road, others were scattered in the city. However, in modern days these cinemas are either replaced with a more contemporary building or demolished.


2. Censorship and cinema in Kuwait

In Kuwait, the Ministry of Information is responsible for censoring movies. All films are screened by the censors, who can cut scenes they consider inappropriate to Kuwaiti or Islamic culture, before being shown in Kuwaiti cinemas. Any film presenting an issue in an excessively negative way, or connected to politics, sexuality, religion or extreme violence, can be censored.


3.1. Role of women Hayat Al Fahad

Hayat Al Fahad was born on April 18, 1948. She is an actress, broadcaster, writer and producer. Al Fahad is one of the prominent artist in Kuwait and the Gulf region as a whole. Hayat Al Fahad moved from her city on the age of fifteen year-old and lost her father in the same year as well as stopped her education journey at that age. However, she self-taught herself and managed to teach herself how read and write in both Arabic and English. Al Fahad started her journey in the art world when a famous artist visited the hospital she works in and offered her a role. It was not long until she appeared on her first television show Bojassom Family in 1964 and continues ever since until she gain her independence and class in the cinematic industry of Kuwait and the Gulf region as a whole. One of her most known works are Bas Ya Bahr 1972, My Aunt Qumasha 1983, Ruqaia and Sabecha, 1986, جرح الزمن The Wound of Time 2001 which were Kuwaiti produced television shows, and عندما تغني الزهور When The Flowers Sing 2005 which was a Qatari produced television show. Aside from being an actress, Hayat Al Fahad has written several dramas and films in her career that were broadcast and had their own success, دمعة يتيمThe orphan tear, الأخت صالحة The Sister Saleha’, and الحريم which is The Ladies.


3.2. Role of women Souad Abdullah

Souad Abdullah is a Kuwaiti actress. She was born in Basra, Iraq, on September 2, 1950. After the death of her father, her mother married a Kuwaiti businessman and they both left for Kuwait. Abdullah then married a Kuwaiti director, Faisal Al Dahi, and gained Kuwaiti citizenship. Abdullah is considered one of the most iconic actresses in the history of Kuwaiti cinema. She started her journey in acting in 1963 with the late artist Mohammad El Nashmi in a TV series called Television’s Majlis ديوانية التلفزين, then she started doing theatre in 1964 with the Kuwaiti Theatre band فرقة المسرح الكويتي with the play Her Luck Breaks Rocks حظها يكسر الصخر directed and produced by Mohammad El Nashmi in 1965. Souad Abdullah is the first Khaleji artist to host talk and competition shows where she hosted Ramadan talk shows as she co-starred with the late artist Abdulhussain Abdulredha. Throughout her acting history, Abdullah left a trail of artistry to the Kuwaiti and Khaleji audience. Moreover, she co-starred in television soap operas alongside Hayat Al Fahad and Abdulhussain Abdulredha. She joined Abdulredha in several shows such as Private Lesson درس خصوصي and Salmia’s Bachelor عزوبي السالمية. Also, she co-starred with Al Fahad in one of that eras successful soap operas, Ruqaia and Sbeeka 1986, My Aunt Qumasha 1983 and Went and did not come back 1982. In addition, in the 90s Abdullah started doing TV soap operas and melodramas and she continues until now. Souad Abdullah was named the Cinderella of the Khaleji cinema and the Pearl of creativity. She gained such names due to her talent and artistry in acting and shaping Kuwaiti and Khaleji cinematic history.


4. Kuwait National Cinema Company

Kuwait National Cinema Company KNCC was established in 1954. It is the leading entertainment in Kuwait and in the entire region as well. Ownership and operation of cinema theaters as well as providing large printing services and through its main branches it provide real estate investments, producing and distribution of movies. In 1966, KNCC used shopping centers as prime locations for screen theaters and began to modernize older theaters to enhance its image. In addition, KNCC introduced the first E-Ticketing service in 2003 where costumers are able to purchase and book their ticketing online using debit and credit cards. Moreover, in 2005 KNCC increased its support to modernize cinema sectors by introducing the M-NET payment method. This is a payment method to ease the purchasing process for customers where they can pay for their ticket using their mobile phone. As a result, Kuwait became the second country in the world to ease and enable mobile phone payments after Australia.


4.1. Kuwait National Cinema Company Cinescape

In 2005, Kuwait National Cinema Company introduced its new brand Cinescape. Its initial release goal is to provide the customers a superior viewing experience that is on par with the best offering work-wide. This concept was rolled throughout all KNCC locations to ensure the customers experience in Cinescape. This relates back to KNCC main goal which is to provide high quality entertainment experience to different audiences. The main targeted audience is the youth population in Kuwait that appreciates and focuses on the full experience and engagement of KNCC cinematic experience. They have five different cinematic experience, Dolby Cinema that brings the film environment to the audience as they experience the sound and picture through stepping the audience into another reality that evolves around the story. 4DX is an experience that lefts the audience from watching the movie to almost living it. It evolves around the technological art in equipping motion chairs as well as environmental effects such as, wind, bubbles and scent work in synchronicity with the action on screen delivering a full cinematic experience. The third experience is ScreenX. It is the worlds first multi-projection cinematic platform with a. 270 degree viewing experience. In addition, IMAX theatre is designed to provide the audience with the most intense experience. Its picture is created to make the movie for the audience more than just a movie by providing the best image and version of the movie to draw it as close to reality as possible. As for IMAX sound its fitted perfectly to create this illusion that even if the character whispers it seems as if the whisper is above the audiences shoulder. Lastly, ELEVEN is found exclusively in Cinescape Avenues as it places the ultimate sound and laser technology in one screen, creating a dimensional sound system with Dolby Atmos as well as 2D and 3D picture performance with Barca laser projection. Cinescape ensures the full cinematic experience for its audience by creating an environmental experiences throughout different viewing theaters.


5. Films shot in Kuwait

  • Vanish Kuwaiti movie; 2012
  • Dinosaur Kuwaiti movie; 2013
  • Mustache Kuwaiti movie; 2010
  • VeTool Documentary; 2004
  • Amreeka American movie; 2009
  • The Waves Will Carry Us Kuwaiti movie; 2011
  • Kallu Kondoru Pennu Malayalam movie; 1998
  • Bas Ya Bahar Kuwaiti movie; 1972
  • The Detective Kuwaiti movie; 2011
  • Burning Wells Indian movie; 2018
  • Fires of Kuwait American short documentary; 1992
  • Al Salhiyah Kuwaiti movie; 2012
  • Kan Refeeji Kuwaiti movie; 2014
  • Shabab Cool Kuwaiti movie; 2002
  • Desert Sky American documentary; 2005
  • Sera al-Ahibbah Kuwaiti movie; 2013
  • Alisa Khatafha Jamil Kuwaiti movie; 2014
  • Habeb Alarth Kuwaiti movie; 2015
  • The Silence - الصمت Kuwaiti movie; 1976
  • Al Denjewana Kuwaiti movie; 2009
  • Cute Kuwaiti movie; 2008
  • Saloon Kuwaiti movie; 2012
  • Someone a.k.a. Fulan Kuwaiti movie; 2012
  • Sinaryu Kuwaiti movie; 2013
  • Sneeze Kuwaiti movie; 2011
  • Lektionen in Finsternis German short documentary; 1992
  • 365 Boots on Ground American documentary; 2005
  • Playtime Kuwaiti movie; 2013
  • Whispers of Sin Kuwaiti movie; 2010
  • Les Anges Tunisian; 1984
  • Losing Ahmad Documentary; 2006
  • When You Free Your Residents Kuwaiti movie; 2015
  • Ahmad Al Sanes Life African documentary; 1976
  • The Carpet a.k.a. Al Zooliyyah Kuwaiti movie; 2014
  • The Message international movie; 1976
  • The Youngest Son Kuwaiti movie; 2001
  • Falafel Cart Kuwaiti movie; 2014
  • Heavens Water Kuwaiti movie; 2010
  • 090 Kuwaiti movie; 2014
  • Cut: Unforgettable Night Kuwaiti movie; 2014
  • The Sniper Kuwaiti movie; 2008
  • Victor Kuwaiti movie; 2015
  • Kahin Na Kahin Milenge Indian movie; 2009
  • Tora Bora Kuwaiti movie; 2011
  • The Wedding of Zein Kuwaiti movie; 1976
  • Sedra short Kuwaiti movie; 2001
  • Between Love and Marriage Indian movie; 2015
  • Baraka American documentary; 1982
  • The Trap - الفخ Kuwaiti movie; 1983