It can only be a very sad opening of the fourth edition of the Syrian documentary film festival Dox Box, that runs from March 2nd to 10th in Damascus. The reason is that the festival will be without THE Syrian documentary filmmaker, Omar Amiralay, who passed away in the beginning of February. Omar was always at the festival, he supported it and he was a leading figure, when initiatives were to be taken to better the documentary environment in the region. He was several times in Denmark, he was often used a juror at international festivals, last time at idfa in Amsterdam, and his own films were shown all over the world. An important name in modern documentary history, a dedicated author, and a mild and generous gentleman, who made films that were and are still not publicly available in his own country. The organisers of Dox Box write this about him:
On the fifth of February, 2011, we missed a friend, a mentor and a partner. Omar Amiralay was the pioneer who planted the seed we are cherishing today. A seed of appreciation and respect to the great art of documentary cinema. Omar made more than 20 films between 1970 and 2004, he made films in Syria, Lebanon, France, Egypt, Pakistan, Yemen and Kuwait. His films constitute an outstanding record of life in Syria and the Lebanese civil war, among other vital topics. Omar’s role in developing the documentary industry in the Arab world was exceptional, he was a co-founder and the president of the Arab Institute of Film, he closely advised and supported countless young filmmakers around the region, and he was a close and important advisor to DOX BOX since its very beginning. With his absence, we miss him, and we continue the journey. “Three Films by Amiralay” are in the program of DOX BOX 2011.