Interviews

Age is just a number – a look into the life of Maryan Taher, the youngest journalist from Saudi Arabia

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Maryan Taher is nine years old and  like most nine-year olds, she should probably be either in preschool learning how to multiply fractions or spending her spare time hanging out with her friends and changing her mind about careers.

But here’s the deal with her  – she already has a job and she is also the youngest journalist from Saudi Arabia.

Maryan became a journalist because she really liked the field and got the support of both her parents as well as the support of her community & government to secure her place as the youngest journalist in Saudi Arabia.

Despite her love for journalism, she is yet to tackle writing. She says that writing falls under something she will explore when she’s older adding it to her long list of things she wants to achieve when she’s older. Perhaps one of the reasons why she loves reporting stems from the fact that she has a strong support system and enjoys being a reporter.

When asked whether she would secure her place in the future, Taher gave a very interesting answer for her age. She replied that she would continue being a journalist as long as it doesn’t interfere with her studies and her decision to wear the veil.  Maryan commented that reporting wasn’t her only career goal as she also plans on becoming a doctor when she’s older. She also said she’d stick to her reporting job, if it was still possible in the future.

Maryan concluded our interview by giving solid advice to aspiring journalists and children like her by saying, “I don’t want anyone to lose hope and always keep pursuing your dreams. Always have someone to support you and be by your side, even if you’re young and that I’m grateful to my parents, family, government and everyone who’s supported me and allowed me to do this. Always find someone who is going to support you and encourage you, keep you enthusiastic and to help you pursue your dreams.”

By Sharanya Paulraj

 

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Tête-à-tête with Saudi filmmaker Sameer Arif

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Sameer Arif  is a Saudi filmmaker who has worked on several TV commercials and documentaries and his film credits include Hard Way, Challenge and Eyes Without Soul. He also directed MBC’s TV series I’m Sorry, Hello and Devil’s Game. Read our interview with Sameer as we caught up with him to talk about his film,  Sada (Echo)  that has been selected in the Gulf Features category at this year’s festival.

1. Tell us about your film.

The film is about a deaf and mute couple who communicate with everyone else through their son, who unlike them is physically normal. The son soon starts to feel embarrassed by his parents and wants to leave home and become independent. A series of incidents than slowly make change his plans and understand his parents better.

2. Why did you select this script to work with?

What made this script unique was that whenever movies are made in regard to a disability it is always the child who suffers and the parents have to learn to deal with it but in this story it is the parents who are affected and the child is facing the problem of dealing with them and the society.

3. When you do a film that portrays people with a handicap what kind of research do you have to do ?

There is a lot of research involved, I had to learn about the sign language and I had to get a teacher to teach the actors about it. The actors had to go through the process of learning the language and using it to express their feelings. Most importantly I had to learn with how people with disability dealt with their daily life routines for example how do they know someone is ringing their bell so their is a light in every room that blinks and they know that someone is at the door.

4. According to you how has the Gulf Film Festival evolved over the years?

If you watch the movies which were screened in the initial years of the festival and the current films there is a big difference in terms of quality, ideas and in technical aspects. the festival is doing a favor to filmmakers in the gulf region and I think in the coming years we will see better and better films.

5. What are the most common obstacles for a filmmaker in the Middle East?

Firstly their is no money, funding is difficult as there is no way of getting your money back. In Saudi Arabia finding permissions to shoot is very difficult. We also face difficulty in finding good actors, even if you find them they may again cost a lot of money. The technical team must be good and everyone must be willing to work together.

By Syeda Nawab Fathima

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