“Graphic, dramatic and emphatic” – Tim Llewellyn, former BBC Middle East Correspondent
“5 out of 5! The private frustrations behind seven decades of decisions, struggles with religion, political survival and conscience.” – Caroline Frost, The Huffington Post
“A beautifully crafted piece” – Jon Snow, Channel 4
“Essential viewing” – Andrew Gowers, FT former editor and Arafat biographer
“Outstanding” – The National
“Engrossingly edited… a great deal of complex Middle East history into digestible, bite-size chunks… Suha Arafat is articulate and frank” – The Hollywood Reporter
Yasser Arafat’s political legacy is one marred by controversy. To some, he was a heroic revolutionary who fought for the freedom of Palestine and the rights of his people; to others he was a terrorist and leader of a corrupt state. Yet regardless of the dichotomy, Yasser Arafat’s position at the heart of the Middle East conflict for over forty years makes him a character of incredible significance.
With groundbreaking access to the people who knew Yasser Arafat best; his wife, Suha Arafat, his political allies and his adversaries, the film delves into Yasser Arafat’s history, the personal struggles he faced and sacrifices he made seeking to establish peace with Israel, whilst at the same time trying to build a Palestinian nation for his people.
Joanna Natasegara is a freelance Producer and filmmaker and was previously producer and director at Spirit Level Film.
Joanna has an MSc in Human Rights and began her career working with NGOs in Cambodia, Brasil & the UK. Making the move to film, she worked with the campaign film project Peace One Day on the UN Day of Global Ceasefire.
For Spirit Level Film Joanna co-produced the documentary, The Ministry of Truth (2008), which explored the accountability of politicians and whether it should be unlawful for them to lie. She had the tenacity to persuade and secure interviews with over 50 MPs and Ministers, including Jack Straw, Harriet Harman and George Osborne.
In 2010, she co-directed and produced The Fear Factory, which exposed the UK’s criminal justice system, which is failing young people and the public.
She then co-produced and co-directed The Price of Kings, a unique 12-part documentary series, which takes a deeper look at the sacrifices made by presidents, prime ministers and kings in order to lead a nation. Together with fellow producer & director Richard Symons they gained unprecedented access to global leaders, their families, political colleagues and rivals.
Richard Symons is the Founder, Director and Producer of Spirit Level Film, an exciting independent film company set up in 2001.
Richard studied law at Queen Mary’s College. After leaving university he co-founded a company selling information storage technology to the entertainment industry. By the time he sold out in 2000, it was one of the largest in Europe, supplying governments, institutions and multi-nationals as well as having it’s own championship-winning race team.
Running the racing team inspired Richard’s first film The Snake and the Stallion, about the rivalry between Enzo Ferrari and Carroll Shelby, the man who created the legendary Cobra and Mustang, but sold his soul to Ford Motor Company along the way. He pitched the idea to the BBC, who agreed to commission it and so he set up Spirit Level Film. Despite having never been behind the lens, he soon found himself in charge of a 40-man crew, the Goodwood Estate (including its racetrack) and half a dozen cars with a $45 million value.
Spirit Level Film then bought the rights to Cietaitun Rendezvous. Banned in 1976 and described by Jeremy Clarkson as a film that, “…makes Bullitt look like a cartoon”, only to discover no retailer in the UK would touch it – forcing Spirit Level Film to distribute the film themselves. Rendezvous was a phenomenal success and solidified Spirit Level’s credentials as a totally independent film company that could make and distribute the films they loved.
The next adventure for Spirit Level was the critically acclaimed Ministry of Truth, which saw over 50 MPs and Ministers cross-examined (including Jack Straw, Harriet Harman and George Osborne), exploring the accountability of politicians and whether it should be unlawful for them to lie. The film was chosen to represent Britain in the “Why Democracy?” series that was billed as “the largest factual broadcast event in history”, shown in 200 countries.
In 2010, Richard co-directed and produced “The Fear Factory”Â, an expose of the UK’s criminal justice crisis. It went on to inspire a coalition of 60 organisations (including The Children’s Society, National Youth Agency, Standing Committee for Youth Justice, Kids Company and UNLOCK) to lobby for more effective policies.
Currently working on a groundbreaking documentary series The Price of Kings, this unique series of individual films, takes a deeper look at the personal sacrifices made by presidents, prime ministers and kings in order to lead a nation. This was driven by Richard’s passion for uncovering the truth and the insight gained into the tough choices political figures have to make whilst filming The Ministry of Truth and The Fear Factory. Richard and fellow producer Joanna Natasegara gain unprecedented access to global leaders, their families, political colleagues and adversaries.