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A New Documentary Captures Life and Legacy of the King

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At a time when Al-Aqsa  Mosque and Al-Quds are being threatened everyday by Israel’s aggressions and violating its sanctities, the image of King Faisal bin Abdulaziz comes to mind as he stood speaking, his voice trembling, tears swelling in his eyes, about the dangers confronting Al-Aqsa. He was passionate about the Palestinian issue, particularly Jerusalem, saying that he was ready to
sacrifice his life for it. A new documentary ‘Faisal: Legacy of a King’ about the life of Faisal captures this image with its powerful message that still reverberates today. The documentary is full of other memorable images of Faisal and his words, particularly during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and the oil embargo he imposed in support of Egypt, which changed the course of events and world
history. The documentary also reveals events and rare images of his life since childhood that are not well known about Faisal.

“The documentary on King Faisal was done because we felt that he had fallen through the cracks of history and he played a most important part in the development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said the producer  and director of the documentary Shems Friedlander. “So many events he was involved with remain with us as difficult world situations: Such as the Palestine problem, the unity of Islamic nations, and oil.”

King Faisal believed in Islamic solidarity. He had the vision of establishing an institutional framework to unite the Muslim world in solidarity, joint work and common causes, especially the Palestinian cause. He lobbied and mobilized the Muslim nations, traveling from one country to another and pushing forward towards this vision, more persuasively after the arson attack on Al-Aqsa in 1969.
The result was the Organization of Islamic Conference (later renamed Organization of Islamic Cooperation). As the OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu says in the documentary, Faisal was convinced that the Palestinian issue could not be solved through
the Arab perspective alone but  also the Islamic perspective because it is originally an Islamic issue.

The filmmakers interviewed members of Faisal’s family who spoke about his personality and thinking on certain issues. The
most challenging part of making the film according to Friedlander came in obtaining interviews with some of the most prominent
people of the time (Henry Kissinger, Zaki Yamani, CIA agent Raymond Close, former ambassadors and ministers).

After the long and arduous task of gaining these interviews in Arabic, they were translated in their entirety into English and then began the process of structuring the film. “We spent nearly a year in research before beginning to film; talking to people who knew him, reading nearly everything written on him in English and Arabic, for it was necessary to create a documentary that clearly showed
not only his life, but through his life the establishment of the country.” Including all the post-production, the project took three years to complete.

“Those who have seen the film have commented mainly on the fact that they all learned something from the film. It is historical and informative as well as being a full-length (90 minutes) documentary,” said Friedlander.