tabloid! managed to grab a few minutes with the acclaimed Syrian actor Rasheed Assaf, who is on a short break from working in his latest series in Tunisia about Khalifah Muawiya.
“This is my second time at the Middle East International Film Festival. I think it’s improved...they [the organisers] have brought very good films this year,” he said.
“It’s always good to have more festivals in the region. It helps to highlight the talent and creativity that we have in the Middle East, not only to fellow actors and directors but to international peers as well,” he added.
According to Assaf, there was a time when it seemed that more emphasis was being given to television, but now, cinema is gaining ground as well.
“Before, television series used to be stored on video cassettes, sometimes up to 30 depending on the length of the series. That would take up a lot of space, whether they were displayed on the shelves of living room, or simply stored in drawers,” he laughed. “But now you can store 10 movies onto a single DVD. That is a great way to bridge the worlds of cinema and television,” he said.
When asked if his affinity to act in Bedouin television series is because it’s easier to portray such characters, he said: “It’s not about escaping, but rather showing that a lot of beautiful things happened in the past. I also played the role of Shaikh Ahmad Yassin, one of Hamas’ leaders, in a recent series...no matter how old or how recent events have happened, they should be portrayed.”
But Assaf didn’t have kind words for The Traveler, which he was eager to watch, “I didn’t like it at all. There were many elements missing, such as character building, or even a proper scenario. It took me to the end of the film to understand the film’s message ...and I’m an actor! I can’t imagine what normal people would make of it. I mean, it didn’t touch on any of the main points in recent history, whether it was in Egypt or global events such as 9/11,” he added.