The Art Of Documentary Filmmaking

Jan 20,2019

Waël Kabbani is an all-round creative with a passion for storytelling through music, film, and animation. Kabbani recently served as producer on the acclaimed documentary 'What Walaa Wants' and was in Dubai to attend its screening at the Reel Palestine Festival in Cinema Akil. We caught up with this sought after creative visionary to get his thoughts on storytelling, films and the power of documentaries.


What do you spend most of your time doing?

I do music, film and animation through my two companies, one in the UK and one in Canada and I serve as Executive Creative Director on both of them.


How did you get into documentary filmmaking?

I fell into it by accident. I did a music video and someone heard my album and gave me a CD to listen to. I really liked it and decided that I wanted to support this artist – so I bought a few CD’s to give to friends. Later I found out that the musician had actually passed away and his album only came out because of his best friend and family. When he was alive no one actually knew of the album. This inspired me to make a documentary about Ollie Nicholls


Are you primarily a musician?

Songwriting is probably my first passion. I would say a few years ago I used to spend a lot of time on music but lately I’ve been focusing more on documentaries. More than 12 years ago, I created my own animated superheroes and I’ve been working on a colouring book for refugee children. We will be donating at least 50 percent of the books directly to the children and the proceeds from the sales of the other 50 percent will help us produce more colouring books. I plan to do an animated series with my superheroes as well. They are called The Utopians’ Alliance. Having said all that, I’m hoping to record my next music album in 2020


Are there any interesting themes for your upcoming documentaries?

Yes, I’m working on a movie about the origins of reggae music, and we discovered a lot of music that no one has ever heard before


How do you select directors and films that you want to work with?

I tend to work with directors I trust and it's important to give them creative freedom. It’s also important for me to be passionate about the topic and the human elements of the story


You are in Dubai to attend the screening of ‘What Walaa Wants’. How were you first introduced to the film?

I had worked with one of the producers on another film before. In the beginning, I was a bit hesitant to take on another project because I’m currently working on 14 different films.


Tell us a little about the protagonist ‘Walaa’

She is a young rebellious teenager that was taken care of by relatives because her mom was in prison and her father moved to Jordan to start a new family. Walaa is quite feisty in a good way and you go through different emotions with her throughout the film.


What’s next for you?

I have a few films that I’m currently working on and a music album is also on its way. 


Catch ‘What Walaa Wants’ at the Reel Palestine Festival on Jan 18, 21 & 23.

Tickets are priced at AED 52.5 and is available at Cinema Akil's box office and