Cinema a necessary luxury

Cinema a necessary luxury

January 08, 2017
Wahid Al-Ghamdi
Wahid Al-Ghamdi

Wahid Al-Ghamdi

By Wahid Al-Ghamdi

WHEN we think of the content of Hollywood movies we can understand that it creates the best image of America. These films while criticizing the government and shedding light on its political, cultural and social inadequacies leave an indelible impression about the United States, its geography and history, its present and future, its power and prestige and the American point of view.

This is how the big screen influences viewers. We know that Turkish tourism achieved remarkable growth after Turkish films conquered Arab screens. Turkish films have been giving a wonderful picture of the country, its nature and security system. This is the real role of art provided it should have a human touch.

I believe that cinema can play a bigger role of publicity and propaganda than the Information Ministry in this modern age. Cinema and art have taken over the stage and have an overwhelming influence on people's minds, thus weakening the role of the Information Ministry.
We are badly in need of making use of this modern weapon to wage our political and cultural battle effectively. Iran has a strong film industry and it has announced a new film called “Sadat Khanim”, which according to reports is likely to deepen the political tension between Riyadh and Tehran.

The film intends to highlight the Mina stampede involving Iranian pilgrims at the peak of Haj 2015. Of course, it will highlight the Iranian point of view with Arabic subtitles.

On the other hand, we have seen the influence of migrated Iranian films on people inside Iran. For example, Rajm Thoraya (Stoning of Soraya), a translation of the novel Marjouma, has shocked Iranian people more than anybody else. It contributed to weakening the power of Iranian mullas, who have wrested control of the country since the Iranian revolution of 1979 under Ayatollah Khomeini.

Cinema was one of the factors that strengthened the base of the reformist movement in Iran.

The cinema industry today is a real weapon for those who want to take their message across to the public. At the same time, the human factor for which this art form was invented cannto be ignored. The objective of propaganda and publicity should not get priority at the expense of ethical and human values because the latter is the subject of major propaganda.

The problem in the Kingdom is that people have forefeited their brains and minds to movies and TV channels of other countries that do not comply with official media regulations. We also lack a parallel program to counter the influence of such media products on our people.
This situation will bring unimaginable consequences, especially if we consider the parochial approach of our enemies who know that all forms of entertainment – cinematic or other – reach our living rooms even when we express our staunch opposition to opening cinema houses in the country.

By this, our enemies wanted to make us to believe that they are in control, even though the reality is the opposite. Of course, this article should not be misconstrued as a call to bring satellite channels under the control of the media authority. On the other hand, it is a call to develop and strengthen our own media content, which is competitive and powerful at the same time.

I would like to underline that parallel cinemas are essential to counter the anti-Saudi smear campaign and rally international public opinion behind the Kingdom.

History teaches us that if King Faisal had listened to extremists and banned television in those days we would not have successfully confronted the leftist campaign of Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1960s, when socialist ideology gained steam and red flags fluttered high in many Arab countries.

Today we have to wage the same battle using a vital weapon – the cinema. It is essential to save the new generation which is currently influenced by values that come from outside, without any control of social, religious and cultural authorities in the Kingdom.

January 08, 2017