Jameelah’s love letter to Jeddah

Jameelah’s love letter to Jeddah
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Jameelah’s love letter to Jeddah
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Updated 22 December 2015

Jameelah’s love letter to Jeddah

Jameelah’s love letter to Jeddah

Twenty-two year-old filmmaker Jameelah Rose Valera del Prado Lineses was captivated by film at a very early age. In elementary school, she decided she would become a film director, her dream held firm even after graduating high school when she discovered the artistic aspect of film as opposed to just the entertainment value. For Lineses, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) was an easy decision. In June 2011 she began an 8-week filmmaking workshop, followed by a longer program, the Filmmaking Conservatory in September 2011. As a 2012 graduate, she has since worked with some production companies in Jeddah. Currently, she is doing freelance production work and teaching film.
Filipino by nationality, but Jeddah, the only home Lineses has known, is where her heart is. A regular honors student throughout her schooling as well as a graduate from the NYFA’s Filmmaking Conservatory program with the highest honors, she focuses her dedication to everything she sets her sights on. This year makes her second time participating in the International Film Festival Manhattan (IFFM). Not only is she a 2-time participant, she is a 2-time awardee: Film Festival Director Award for Best Student Film 2013 (Will You Marry Me?) and she received honorable mention with Most Popular IFFM Promo 2015 (Historic Jeddah). In 2014, Ani Ng Dangal or Harvest of Honors awarded her, which is recognition bestowed by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts under the Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines.
Influenced by Asian cinema (particularly Korean and Japanese), her favorite actors are Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Aside from her passion for film; Lineses is a pianist, guitar player, and drummer. With multiple languages under her belt (Tagalog, English, Arabic, Korean, Japanese, and a bit of Italian and Spanish), her talents are rounded out with sports like volleyball, swimming, badminton, and table tennis. To learn more about Lineses, her dedication, achievements, and her latest film Historic Jeddah, Arab News caught up with the up-and-coming filmmaker that represented Saudi Arabia at the IFFM.

What about filmmaking appeals to you?
What’s great about filmmaking is that you can turn imagination into reality. It gives us the freedom to express ourselves, to create the film we envision. These days, cinema greatly affects how we live. For example: a person can buy a ticket to the movies and stay there for an hour or two and then come back to reality. It creates an illusion for us when we want to escape from our day-to-day tasks. It allows you to have a break, to sit, watch and enjoy.
I have always loved watching movies and TV series since I was very young. As I grew older, I began to critique various films. Gradually, my interest in watching films evolved into something more in depth, which was to study the art of filmmaking. Since the 5th grade, I dreamed of becoming a successful film director. Until the day I graduated from high school, my ambition did not change. NYFA had been my dream school since I was in my 2nd year of high school. I was very impressed with the content of the website and the curriculum, and was convinced that this school was going to be my stepping-stone to reaching my dream. The instructors not only taught us the technical side of filmmaking, but they also taught us the etiquette of working in the industry. We were taught everything that we should know from pre-production to post-production.
As a filmmaker, creating a film takes a lot of effort and perseverance. Filmmakers are known to be storytellers. Becoming a filmmaker transpires when you actually start making films, whether it’s a blockbuster-Hollywood-type of movie, an indie film, or a simple short film. As filmmakers, we must bring joy and satisfaction to our audience, as the saying goes “Thou Shall Not Bore,” from the NYFA Soho campus.

How did the NYFA shape you as a filmmaker?
At the NYFA, we wrote, directed, edited, produced and shot our own films. Everyday was an adventure because we were always busy shooting. We traveled borough-to-borough, city-to-city and state-to-state depending on where the location of the shoot was. I was able to apply the skills I learned from NYFA in making Historic Jeddah because it is a film I shot, directed, edited and produced myself. I also applied those skills on my other projects here in Jeddah since most of them are “one-woman shows.” During my studies in the filmmaking conservatory program, we had documentary elective classes from our directing instructor, Tassos Rigopoulos. Although it was just an elective, I learned so much in a short time.

What made you decide to make Historic Jeddah, and consequently submit it to the IFFM?
I found a group called Arabian Jewel. They were organizing a tour of Old Balad because there was an ongoing festival in January 2015. I was intrigued by it, so I discussed attending it with my mother and we ended up going. My mother was my inspiration when I made the film. In fact, she was the one who told me that I should film the tour and bring a spare camera with me. She suggested I turn it into a film someday, which I actually ended up doing. It was entirely shot using a camera-phone and a digital compact/point and shoot camera.

What did it mean to you to have your film selected and then to win Most Popular IFFM Promo?
I feel very honored, humbled and blessed to have showcased my documentary short film at the IFFM 2015 and to have represented KSA for the 2nd time at that particular film festival. It was the only entry coming from KSA that was included in the official selections.

At the same time, I feel very proud and honored to be given an Honorary Award as a filmmaker and winning Most Popular IFFM Promo. It is my 3rd consecutive award and my 2nd award from IFFM.

Please briefly describe Historic Jeddah.
Historic Jeddah is a multi-part documentary short film that will showcase rich cultural heritage such as the Dondurma, Rawashin, Rubat, etc.
It gives the audience a detailed insight in to Saudi Arabia’s historic Jeddah — a World Heritage Site.

As someone who calls Jeddah home, is it fair to say that Historic Jeddah is a public declaration of love to where you were born and raised?
Yes. I am very proud to say that I was born and raised in Jeddah. If I wasn’t born here, I think I would have been a different person. I wouldn’t be “Jameelah” or “Jameelah, the filmmaker.” The simple fact that I was born and raised here gave me an opportunity to fulfill my dreams.

Who is your biggest source of support?
My family is my biggest support and during my studies at NYFA my biggest support was Princess Hala bint Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.

What kind of feedback has Historic Jeddah as well as your representation of Saudi Arabia in an international competition received from Saudis and specifically Jeddawis? Has it been supportive?
Well, I would say it was shocking and intriguing for Saudis and Jeddawis to see a non-Saudi, Filipino, female, make a film about historic Jeddah. As far as I know, nobody has ever made a film showcasing historic Jeddah that got into a film festival in New York City!
For promotional support and publicity in Saudi Arabia, I would have to say Susie Johnson Khalil (Susie of Arabia), Big Hass from Laish Hiphop MIX FM — KSA, Robin Day, Miriam Zuyco and various newspapers greatly contributed to spreading the word about my film, Historic Jeddah. Regarding financial support, all of my films including Historic Jeddah are self-funded.

Where do you see yourself in the next ten years careerwise?
My goal is to become a prominent figure in the motion picture industry. I hope to become a multi-award-winning, multi-lingual, and world-renowned filmmaker in the future. I wish to win an Oscar for Best Director and for my film to win as well. I would like to become a pioneer in educating young and aspiring filmmakers here without breaking the code of conduct in Saudi Arabia. At the moment, there are only a handful of filmmakers from Saudi Arabia, especially female filmmakers like me.

Can you tell our readers about any upcoming projects you are working on?
I am currently working on 3 documentary films. One is about the Expats of Jeddah. This is actually a continuation of my semester film during my filmmaking conservatory studies at NYFA. For this film, I interviewed additional people of different nationalities. The film will be about their lives in Jeddah — their first impressions, things they like/dislike about the country, cultural differences, and advice to incoming expats, etc.

Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers in Saudi Arabia?
Don’t be afraid to try something different. Just because it has never been done before doesn’t mean you can’t make it happen. Don’t let your fear keep you from doing something you love. You will never know the outcome unless you try. Don’t let society dictate you; you shape your life not them. I am an idealistic, perfectionist, meticulous and ambitious person. I’ve always had a lot of dreams in life. I believe that nothing is impossible as long as you have confidence in yourself; the confidence that you can achieve all of the things that you want to do in life. Many of us dream, but how many of those dreams actually transpire. Dreaming has no fee, but it’s up to us to make them come true. If you want something to happen in your life, strive for it because no one is going to do it for you. Do your best in everything you do, even if it’s hard you must endure it. There’s no room for excuses and regrets. Many would say I was lucky, but I have to disagree. I deserved all of it. I deserved it because I earned it. I earned it because I worked hard for it.

As filmmakers are capable in the best way, multi-award winning Jameela Rose Lineses documents her career, her hard work, and well-earned milestones for us to appreciate. Be sure to follow her on Instagram (@direkjam2193) to view what she shares for updates and a glimpse into her world.

Email: [email protected]