Kuwait on Thursday announced the passing away of film director Khaled Al-Siddiq, the pioneer of the Kuwaiti cinema, and the director of the first Kuwaiti feature film Cruel Sea, which was released in 1972 and nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 45th Academy Awards.
The National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters mourned “with great sadness and sorrow (...) the pioneer of the Kuwaiti cinematic movement, artist and film director Khaled Al-Siddiq, who passed away at the age of 76 after a rich career in the field of film and television art.”
Dr. Issa Al-Ansari, Assistant Secretary-General for the Culture Sector, and the official spokesman for the Council, said in a press statement on Thursday: “We are saddened by the news of the death of the great film director Khaled Al-Siddiq, the maker of pioneering cinematic and television works that left their mark in this field at the local, Arab and international levels.”
Al-Siddiq has made important cinematic achievements in the history of cinema in Kuwait. He released several critically acclaimed features throughout his career, including The Wedding of Zein in 1976, adapted from the novel by Tayeb Salih, and Shaheen in 1986, based on the novel by Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio, a joint production between Kuwait, India and Italy.
Al-Siddiq studied in Kuwait, then moved to India, where he discovered his passion for cinema. Before completing his high school studies there, he joined a film institute in Bombay, where he received a training in photography and met with film stars and Indian and international directors.
He began his introduction to filmmaking volunteering at film studios in India. He also trained in filmmaking in Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States. He made his first short film in 1965, called Alia and Esam. Other shorts followed, all of which he independently financed and often acted in.
After his graduation, he worked for Kuwait TV in 1963 and then moved to TV directing, relying on self-training.
Al-Siddiq received many awards and honors, especially for his movie Cruel Sea, including the first prize at the Youth Film Festival in Damascus (1972), the Honor Award at the First Tehran International Film Festival, the International Film Critics Award at the Venice Film Festival, and the second prize at the Ohio International Festival, in addition to several prizes from festivals and film forums in Chicago, Spain, Carthage and others. His movie The Wedding of Zein won seven International awards.