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Kuwaiti student directs Hollywood actor in DIFF

Film based on a true story involving the Gulf War

An ambitious Kuwaiti student screened his To Rest in Peace, starring Hollywood actor Michael Benyaer, a UAE-based newspaper reported on Sunday.

To Rest in Peace is Fawaz al-Matrouk’s first experience in Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) 2010; and he has decided to choose Benyaer as the leading role for his thesis film for his University of South California.

Benyaer Benyaer who was previously seen in Hollywood box office hits such as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and G. I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra, had volunteered for the leading role, Malek, through the California Screen Actors Guild.

"A lot of people were passionate about this project and because very little money is put towards student films the actors volunteered their time," al-Matrouk told Gulf News.

"It was very moving to see how many people came together to help."

Who is Malek?

Al-Matrouk based his 18-minute short film on a true story set in Kuwait, when his uncle, Malek, saw two dead bodies abandoned in a car by the side of the road during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and decided to give them a proper burial.

"This is the true story of my uncle. I heard it when I was eight years old and it stuck with me ever since,” he said. "It represented to me the importance of human dignity and the need to preserve it in times of war."

Part of the film was shot on Failaka Island in Kuwait, which had remained untouched for 10 years after the war, preserving bombed buildings and original bullet holes, but the crew later discovered a day after shooting wrapped, the town would be demolished to make way for new developments.

"I'm glad we were able to capture a piece of history that is no longer there but at the same time if feels good to move on," he said.

Al -Matrouk was one of a handful of student filmmakers who had their films shown at DIFF this year, after a DIFF change to allow more students to register their films.