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TV series on the life of famous poet Mahmoud Darwish draws criticism

Fans of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish attack both the star and director of the lacklustre Syrian TV series based on his life, Fee Hodret El Gheyab

Sayed Mahmoud, Sunday 7 Aug 2011

Mahmoud Darwish lovers have rallied against the TV series Fee Hodret El Gheyab (In the presence of the missing) about the life of the late Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish.

The fight against the series started months before shooting, when the Syrian actor Firas Ibrahim said he would be playing the role.

The first episodes of the series, which is aired on several Arabic channels, came as a shock to the lovers of Darwish’s poetry. The manner in which Firas Ibrahim recited the poetry took away from its magic and beauty.

Although the criticism heavily fell upon both the series’ producer and star, Firas Ibrahim, the director, Najdat Anzour, also received his share of criticism.

Director Anzour was criticised for not using Mahmoud Darwish's voice when reciting the poetry. Anzour has been well-known for his success in controversial historical fantasy works.

Internet and Facebook pages called for a boycott of the series.

Algerian newspapers also attacked the series, stating how inappropriate the choice of the Syrian actor is for the part of Darwish, considering Ibrahim's unbecoming demeanour. He doesn't even resemble Darwish, physically, who was known for being tall and lean. The actor was also accused of being insincere while playing his role.

The Mahmoud Darwish Foundation itself released a statement clearing itself from any involvement in the work. In the statement it assured that it has no relation to the project or those working in it, adding that the series is an offense to the poet, his image and Arab culture.

The foundation went so far as to call for a ban of the series; a call that has received much support from many institutions and Facebook and Twitter users.

Firas Ibrahim, however, has stated that the attack on the film was uncalled for, especially that one cannot judge the series while it is still in its beginning. He countered that Darwish’s life doesn't even start until the 5th episode.

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