‘Quezon’s Game’ praised at UAE premiere

Published November 16, 2020, 5:31 PM

by Roy Mabasa

The Philippine Embassy in Dubai has commended Star Cinema, the film and television production outfit of ABS-CBN network, for bringing to the Filipino community in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) the highly acclaimed “Quezon’s Game,” a movie focusing on the decision of Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon to provide safe haven to about 1,200 Jews fleeing the Holocaust in Europe during World War II.

(Quezon’s Game Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

During the movie’s special screening at the Vox Cinemas in Dubai last week, Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Hyayceelyn Quintana specifically cited Star Cinema Managing Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa Joseph Arnie Garcia for the opportunity to introduce the movie to the Filipino community in that country, particularly to the younger generation, and to other communities. 

She noted that little is actually known about the heroism done by President Quezon and the Filipino people in welcoming to the Philippines the Holocaust refugees under the “Open Door” policy, in sharp contrast with the policies of other countries at that time.

The film showing coincided with the anniversary of Kristallnacht or Night of the Broken Glass (referring to the thousands of shattered windows that littered the streets when German Nazis attacked the Jewish people starting on November 9, 1938.

Aside from providing shelter to the fleeing Jews, the story also highlights Quezon’s compassion for the oppressed and his deep sense of justice, the direct underpinnings of the well-known Filipino trait of being hospitable and welcoming, and his actions that saved the lives of the 1,200 Jews who would have perished in the hands of the Nazis.

The lady envoy highlighted the Philippines’ humanitarian legacy of welcoming refugees who were forced to flee conflict and persecution such as the Russians in 1917, the Jews in 1934, the Spaniards in 1936, the Vietnamese in 1974 onwards, the Southeast Asians in the 1980s and East Timorese in 2000.

The showing of Quezon’s Game in Dubai came less than two months after the UAE signed the Abraham Accord with Israel and declared its commitment to the promotion of tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and respect for human dignity and freedom on September 15, 2020. 

Quintana, in her speech, thanked the UAE for its unrelenting efforts to espouse tolerance and understanding across the myriad of cultures and faiths that strengthen the fabric of UAE society. 

Aside from Quintana, the special screening was attended by the Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) Office in Dubai Sheikh Maktoum Bin Butti Al Maktoum, Rabbi Levi Duchman of the Jewish Community Centre in Dubai, and representatives of the Filipino and Jewish communities in the UAE, including those of Filipino-Emirati and Filipino-Jewish descent.