International film premiere for Coventry University graduate

Alumni news

Tuesday 15 November 2011

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A media graduate from Coventry University will see his first feature-length documentary given its world premiere at a major international film festival being held in the Netherlands this month.

Palestinian-born Laith Al-Juneidi left the University in 2003 after gaining a first class honours degree in Communication, Culture and Media, followed by a postgraduate diploma in Film and Visual Cultures.

Now Laith is set for international acclaim as his film, The Invisible Policeman, has been selected from over 3,600 submissions as one of 327 titles to be screened at the 24th International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), 16-27 November 2011.

The film looks at the paradoxical life of Lieutenant Nidal, a 41 year old Palestinian police officer. While on the job he wears a uniform and has a certain level of power and status, but as soon as he returns home to the centre of Israeli-controlled Hebron, he is powerless. Nidal, his wife and nine children live in poverty and constantly under threat. We see the story unfold through the eyes of family members; learning how Nidal could do nothing to stop two of his children being arrested by the Israeli military, and seeing him cling helplessly to his wife and children in a room as Jewish settlers torch his house.

Steve Dawkins is Senior Lecturer in Media Production at Coventry University, and taught Laith Al-Juneidi. He said:

Once Laith found his voice, his media production work while on the course started to have real depth and quality. During his time at Coventry University he produced a number of short films, including War vs Peace (2003), a 13-minute critique on the portrayal of war in the media, showing how censorship presents us with versions of the truth, whilst hiding the harsh realities. Laith gained greater recognition as a film-maker after this, and because of his interests, he became part of wider networks exploring the political potential of using documentary. His work at Coventry University gave him a real foundation for the political pieces he is now producing surrounding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It’s great to see how Laith has developed over the years and we wish him luck with his latest project.

IDFA is one of the world’s leading documentary film festivals. Held annually in Amsterdam since 1988, it is unique for its international film programme, the variety of genres, its politically committed programme and the many European and world premieres featured each year.

Following its world premiere in Amsterdam, The Invisible Policeman will have its Middle East Premiere at the 8th Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) 7-14 December 2011; it has also been officially selected by the Docudays Documentary Film Festival in Beirut (15-20 December 2011) and has been submitted to a variety of other festivals.

Film director/producer Laith Al-Juneidi said:

Studying at Coventry University was a really important experience which enriched my outlook on the world. The freedom to choose subject matter and availability of resources really helped my creativity, along with the knowledge and amazing support from staff. I have kept in touch with many members of the University; their open-minded attitude to political, cultural and social issues helped me to find my voice and their continued support of my work has given me the confidence to pursue my dream of becoming a film director.

Coventry University also allowed me to make connections with high profile film professionals such as Lord Puttnam, whose advice to me was short but powerful; ‘It’s about belief’ he said, and since then I decided to increase my belief in what I do. These words helped me considerably during the making of The Invisible Policeman, despite facing many obstacles, I kept on believing and the film got made.

This is not the first Media Production student from Coventry University to have found international success. Most recently third-year Brindusa Nastasa, an overseas student from Romania, filmed a Chilean family in Coventry who had fled Pinochet’s regime and had her work screened at the Marbella Film Festival in October this year.