Speaker Mahmoud Kabbour

Occupation: Award-winning documentary filmmaker & founder of Veritas Films

Field(s) of expertise: Art of Storytelling, Filmmaking amid censorship in the Arab world, Labor camps of the Gulf: an insider’s look

Language(s): English

Mahmoud Kaabour is a multi award-winning director, writer, and lecturer from Lebanon, based in Dubai. With the record-setting successes of his company’s productions, Veritas Films, he has emerged as the most distinguished documentary filmmaker in the Gulf region. His film festival hit Teta, Alf Marra (Grandma, a Thousand Times) screened to packed houses in over 55 cities worldwide, scooping up a staggering 7 major Audience awards and Best Film awards. Kaabour's recent film, Champ of the Camp, about a Bollywood singing competition in the labor camps of the UAE, is the first creative Arab documentary to explore the controversial world of migrant laborers in the Gulf. In 2015, Mahmoud Kaabour was named to the list of "100 most powerful Arabs under the Age of 40".

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Mr. Kaabour's storytelling is shaped by an amalgamation of memories of cities he has visited. Years of travel, capturing faces and chatter around the world, have brought him so close to the everyday folk who might seem ordinary on a first glance. In his documentary films, they become heroes who shed light on our humanity.

As a speaker, Mr. Kaabour doesn`t orate or preach. He tells engaging anecdotes in as personal a way as possible from (and around) the films he has made. These stories span contrasting countries and highlight the charming and odd characters who contributed to his storytelling. They also highlight the complex socio-political worlds in which the films were made, from post 9-11 N America to the labor camps of Dubai. Global Topspeaker Kaabour tries to speak genuinely and does not hide his vulnerabilities during his journey. How else can he leaves his listeners reflecting on their own?

Further language:

  • Arabic

 

Special Awards:

  • Best Production Award for ´Champ of the Camp` at Digital Studio Awards 2013
  • Audience Award for Best Documentary at Doha Tribeca Film Festival for ´Grandma, a Thousand Times`
  • Best Film at London Int'l Documentary Festival for ´Grandma, a Thousand Times`
  • Best Film at Mumbai film Festival for ´Grandma, a Thousand Times`
  • Audience Award at Dox Box for ´Grandma, a Thousand Times`
  • Jury Special Mention at Doha Tribeca for ´Grandma, a Thousand Times`
  • Jury Special Mention at DocsDF Mexico for ´Grandma, a Thousand Times`
  • Anasy Best Script Award for ´The Champ of the Camp`
  • Best Documentary at Canadian National Youth Film Festival for ´Being Osama`
  • 'Best Doc' at the Juried Screenings of the University Film/Video Association Conference (August 7, 2004), Ohio
  • Finalist for the 2005 Award of Excellence in combating racism with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation
  • 'Humanitarian of the Year' at Esquire Magazine's 2014 'Man at His Best' awards

Press Commentaries:

  • On Mr Kaabour’s ´Champ of the Camp`:
    • ´A rare and touching look at the lives of Dubai’s migrant laborers` – CNN
    • ´Gives voice to the hundreds of thousands of otherwise faceless workers who make cities like Dubai what they are today` –BBC
    • ´Slick…A popular charmer` - VARIETY
  • On Mr. Kaabour’s ´Grandma, a Thousand Times`
    • ´Delightful, warm hearted and defiantly unsentimental` – THE NEW YORK TIMES
    • ´Magical` – THE HUFFINGTON POST
    • ´A genial, often hilarious crowd-pleaser` -VARIETY

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Participant Comments

"Mr Kaabour’s clear presentation stimulated an interesting debate amongst the participants which clearly benefited from this intervention."

Charles Autheman / Panos Institute Europe / Program Manager

"During the session, Mahmoud’s storytelling prowess was absolutely palpable – he gave a powerful introduction and managed to strongly engage the audience right from the very beginning. He recounted his own personal story and journey towards fulfilling his creative vision – motivating attendees to follow in his footsteps."

John Antoniades / Starcom Mediavest Group MENA / Chief Executive Officer

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