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Have You Ever Had a Lawrence of Arabia Moment?

January 17, 2018 | Our Story

The story of TRIARC began in one of the most romantic spots in the Arab world at the turn of the century. If you’ve ever been to Wadi Rum in Jordan, then you will know what I mean when I say you can almost hear the music, feel the heat vibrating against your skin, see those robes billowing in the breeze as Omar Sharif rides into shot, with a bemused look on his face, as he spies Lawrence preening in his Arab robes. I, however, was not there making a movie, I was there making a documentary, but in my mind I was going to shoot the ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ of documentaries. It was in this most incredible of settings that my partner, Najat Rizk and I decided that every shot we took from this day forth, we were going to keep, because one day, our video archive, which would be shot by Arab film-makers for Arab audiences, would become a treasure trove of the cultures of the Middle East.

If you remember the film ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, then you will know that Lawrence was in Jordan corralling the Arab tribes into a disciplined army. Through a shimmering heat haze, I saw them coming towards me in an undulating gate; half a dozen camels carrying young Bedouin men – our Arab army had arrived!

‘You gentlemen’, I said to the Bedouins ‘will gallop full speed ahead towards the camera. Got it?’

Over the cacophony of objections from our crew on the impossibility of filming these kinds of shots with one camera, Najat and I were imagining the impact that these shots would make. Then, like most people in this industry when faced with a seemingly impossible task, my crew’s objections suddenly stopped and their ‘what the hell – let’s do it – should be fun’ expressions tuned in full blast.

The Bedouins who, at first, thought that the day was going to be a chore ended up volunteering for even crazier stunts until the dipping sun put an end to camel legs cavorting dangerously close to our heads. The wonderful thing about film people and photographers is that they are, at heart, just like the Bedouins, true nomads, always in search of another experience, an iconic shot and a new adventure. That is what bonds most of us together making for long, strong friendships. And more importantly for Najat and I this was the start of our own adventures.

Tune in next time for more stories on how two entrepreneurial women film-makers took on Saddam Hussein’s sinister bureaucracy before the start of the Gulf War.

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