Omar Al-Qattan is a Palestinian-British director, producer and writer. Born in Beirut in 1964, he has worked in film since 1991. His film credits include, among others, Dreams and Silence (1991), a 52 minute documentary shot during the weeks preceding the Gulf War, portraying a Palestinian woman refugee in Jordan and her struggles with the religious and social constraints around her at a time of great tension and anguish. The film, one of the first to tackle the theme of political Islam, won the Joris Ivens Award.
Al-Qattan has frequently collaborated with Palestinian filmmaker Michel Khleifi, first as an assistant then as executive producer on a number of his films, most notably Tale of the Three Jewels (1995) and Zindeeq (2009). Together, they established the production company Sourat Films in Belgium then, later, Sindibad Films in the UK. In 1998, Al-Qattan joined his family in launching the A.M. Qattan Foundation, and founded its Culture and Science Programme. The A.M. Qattan Foundation is today Palestine's leading independent educational and cultural NGO. Among its projects are a children's library in Gaza, an extensive prizes and awards program in the arts and an increasingly influential think-tank in the field of public education.
In 2000-2001 Omar Al-Qattan worked as series director of the successful two-part series for American Television (PBS), Muhammad, Legacy of a Prophet. In 2002, he also co-produced the landmark documentary, Route 181, co-directed by Michel Khleifi and Eyal Sivan. From 2004 to 2008, Al-Qattan ran the Palestinian Audio-visual Project, an extensive training, distribution, subtitling and school film education program in Palestine and the first of its kind in scope and ambition. The training module was conducted under the supervision of Khleifi. In 2010, this evolved into the Production Support Project, a unique initiative combining cash support for short fiction films with the purchase of professional lighting and grip equipment units in Palestine. In late 2008, the Foundation opened a London cultural centre dedicated to the Arab World, The Mosaic Rooms, under Al-Qattan's direct supervision. Al-Qattan has also contributed articles in English to The New Statesman, Sight & Sound, Middle East International, CounterPunch, Opendemocracy.net & the Jordan Times, and, in Arabic, to Al-Hayat and Al-Quds Newspapers in London.
He has also co-edited the following bi-lingual publications: Flowers of Palestine (Prefaced by Mahmoud Darwish), a reprint of a 19th century book on the wild flowers of the Holy Land; New Horizons in Palestinian Art (with Mahmoud Abu Hashhash) and Hope & the Aesthetic Moment (with Kamal Boullata), both catalogues of work by young Palestinian artists; as well as (in Arabic only) Windows in a Wall of Silence, an anthology of writing, photographs and art work by a number of Palestinian women on their experiences of the second Intifadah. He has also contributed an essay for Dreams of a Nation (Verso, 2004), edited by Hamid Dabashi and another on his parents' experience of dispossession and exile in Nakba: 1948, Palestine and the Claims of Memory, edited by Lila Abu Loghod and Ahmad Saadi (Columbia University Press, 2008).
Filmography (Director or Scriptwriter)
Diary of an Arts Competiton, Documentary, 17’ (UK/ Palestine, 2002)
Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, (2002), Documentary, 120 minutes, USA (with Michael Schwarz)
Homesick, (1998) (as co-writer, with Tony Hanania)
Going Home (al-‘Aouda) 50’. Beta SP, Documentary (Palestine/UK, 1996)
Dreams and Silence (Ahlam fi Faragh), 52', Documentary (UK, 1991)
Tale of the Three Jewels, Directed by Michel Khleifi, feature, 107', 1995
Forbidden Marriages in the Holy Land, Directed by Michel Khleifi, documentary, 66', 1996
500 Dunum on the Moon, directed by Rachel Leah Jones, documentary, 52', 2001
Route 181 – Fragments of a Journey in Palestine and Israel, co-directed by Michel Khleifi and Eyal Sivan, documentary, four parts, 270 minutes, 2003 (as co-producer)
Zindeeq, Directed by Michel Khleifi, feature film, 85', 2009