The Salt Fisherman's Ziad Bakri

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Ziad Bakri is a Palestinian actor and director who has made a name for himself in the entertainment industry. He has starred in several successful films, including Screwdriver, which was nominated for Best Film at the Venice International Film Festival and won awards at festivals around the world. He has also won awards for his performances in films such as The Blind Sun and The Weekend Away. In 2023, he will be starring in the Italian film Profeti, directed by Alessio Gremonini. In addition to his acting career, Ziad is also a filmmaker and has directed the short film The Salt Fisherman, which was nominated for Best Director at the Dubai International Film Festival in 2011. He has several upcoming projects, including The Stranger's Case and The Sand Castle, both of which are highly anticipated.

Ziad Bakri has expressed his deep admiration for the beautiful country of Greece. Bakri has found himself captivated by the charm of Greece. He has been drawn to its ancient ruins, such as the Acropolis in Athens, and has explored its picturesque islands. Bakri's love for Greece is not only rooted in its physical beauty but also in its warm and hospitable people. He appreciates the Greek passion for arts and cinema, and he believes that Greece offers a unique and inspiring backdrop for storytelling. Through his work and personal experiences, Bakri continues to showcase his fondness for Greece, both as a captivating destination and a source of artistic inspiration.

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What do you remember most about your childhood years?

Well, my childhood was truly fantastic. As a Palestinian Arab living in Israel, we resided in villages that were akin to ghettos. Meanwhile, there were Jewish cities surrounding these villages, where Jewish children had access to everything. They could play football, tennis, and even swim in pools. In contrast, as Palestinian Arabs, we had very limited resources. Consequently, we had to find ways to enjoy our childhood. We would climb trees, and I particularly enjoyed going to the mountains with my cousins. I recall how we would bring some food and climb a very tall tree near my house. At the top of the tree, we had constructed a makeshift house out of cardboard boxes. From there, my cousins and I would observe my mother calling my name, "Ziad, Ziad!", searching for me.

On other occasions, I would sit atop the tree, gazing at the world before me, surveying the entire village and daydreaming about the future. Putting up the Palestinian flag was not allowed in Israel. According to the law, if you were caught displaying the flag, you could be sent to jail. I remember as a child, some people would throw the flag onto the electricity cables near our house. In response, the Israeli police, accompanied by dogs, would enter the village to shut down these acts. I distinctly recall one instance when they entered our house, as well as my cousins' house, and rounded up all the young people aged 16 to 27. The Israeli police treated them harshly. Additionally, they would apprehend any woman who possessed a machine capable of making a flag. 

 

Have you achieved your dreams?

I believe this question is closely related to my desire to be at the pinnacle and observe things from a vantage point without being noticed. I strive for success, yet I am not fond of the spotlight. Therefore, I prefer to occupy a high position while remaining hidden. It's akin to being perched atop a tree, observing everything from there while remaining unseen. I have a strong sense of optimism and aspire to accomplish great things in my future.

 

Do you feel the need to exert more effort in proving yourself as a good actor since you're the son of Mohammad Bakri, a famous and established actor and director?

It's a wonderful experience being the son of such a talented artist and witnessing the remarkable work my father has accomplished. However, as an artist myself, it can be quite challenging due to the constant comparisons that people make. We are individuals with distinct personalities. While I would be thrilled to achieve even 10% of what my father has achieved, I am different to him. We each have our own unique character and history. The period in which my father lived as a Palestinian in Israel differs from the period I live in now. Consequently, these comparisons are unjustifiable, yet people often make them. When you're younger, it takes a considerable amount of time to break free and establish your own artistic identity because many people tend to say, “Oh, he's the son of Bakri...”. Consequently, you're not given the freedom to act and express yourself genuinely. Nevertheless, as an artist, I embrace our differences. My father is my idol, but my goal is not to replicate him, because I possess my own personality, history, and experiences that differentiate me from him.

 

What are some of your favourite collaborations?

I had my first experience directing a film called 'The Salt Fisherman.' The story revolves around a fisherman who embarks on a journey to the sea with hopes of catching fish, but he consistently fails. Towards the end of the film, after three days of unsuccessful attempts, a young man carrying travel luggage approaches the fisherman. He informs the fisherman that there are no fish in that particular sea because it's the Dead Sea. The young man then departs, but the old fisherman continues his pursuit, driven by his desire to catch the elusive golden fish from this very sea. This carries a subliminal meaning that reflects my own experiences and those of my father as Palestinians living in an apartheid country.

 

What do you enjoy most about acting?

Well, I absolutely love acting. It's my greatest passion and the activity I enjoy the most. Acting allows me to explore facets of myself that I can't in my everyday life. It's an incredible opportunity for personal growth and to experience things I wouldn't be able to otherwise. The freedom to become anyone or anything without limitations or constraints is truly exhilarating.

 

What has been your favourite role so far in your career?

I haven't had the chance to play my favourite role just yet. I'm eagerly anticipating that opportunity, and I'm deeply eager for it to come my way.

 

Would you identify any actors in the industry as role models?

Absolutely, Daniel Day-Lewis and Robert De Niro are my role models in the industry.

 

What are the most valuable skills an actor could have?

In my opinion, the most valuable skill an actor should possess is authenticity. Being true to oneself and using personal experiences as a wellspring for acting are crucial elements.

 

What is the most important element for an actor, talent or training?

I believe the most important element for an actor is the ability to delve deep into their emotions and continually search for the answers to the questions that arise during their performances. It's an ongoing process of self-discovery and exploration, carried out through every word and action.

 

What are your future plans?

Currently, I don't have any specific plans. I'm eagerly awaiting the role of my dreams that will truly bring me to life, as acting is the essence that keeps me breathing. Without it, I feel like a mere shell, devoid of purpose. It's akin to a guitar without a skilled hand to play it.

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