Emirati filmmakers explore UAE via science fiction, animation, music documentaries

  • 13 films will compete for honours, screen to UAE audiences from December 7 to 14

Thirteen Emirati films – including six brand new shorts and one brand new feature film – will compete for honours and screen to the public as part of the 8th Dubai International Film Festival next month. The UAE films, by returning and first-time filmmakers, explore diverse genres and present varied facets of life in the UAE as well as universal stories.

The Festival’s Muhr Emirati competition, includes seven world premieres and one international premiere, as well as five films selected from the best of the fourth Gulf Film Festival held in April 2011. DIFF 2011, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, runs December 7 to 14, 2011. Festival venues include the Mall of the Emirates, Madinat Jumeirah and The Walk at JBR.

Emirati films making their world premiere at DIFF 2011 include: Mohammad Fikree’s Children, an animated short film revolving around a mother and her children who plan their desperate escape from a scary beast; Mohammed Ghanim Al Marri’s Moment, the story of a young man who has lost hope in life, only to discover the secret of his happiness in a bird; and Sarah Alagroobi’s Forbidden Fruit, a dramatic look into the lives of two young Emirati adults living a life of secrecy.

Majid Alansari’s Intruder! is a sci-fi film that narrates the story of a couple who witnesses the crash of a spaceship while driving at night on a deserted UAE highway; while Mohammed Swaidan’s Smell of Heaven follows the life of a old local jeweller in Dubai, who is visited by a strange man no one else can see.

Ahmed Zain and Naser Al Yaqoobi’s Foresight, a music documentary, is a brand new cut of the film that was showcased at the fourth Gulf Film Festival earlier this year. It depicts the story of an old man who has lost his sight, but sees and follows his heart.

Director Nujoom Alghanem, whose earlier work Hamama won awards at both DIFF and the Gulf Film Festival, returns to the Festival with Amal, which documents the life of a Syrian expatriate who comes to the UAE to work for one year, and is faced with the temptation of staying longer even though she is convinced otherwise.

London in a Headscarf, by UK-based Emirati director Mariam Al Sarkal, documents the journey of an Emirati girl who moves abroad to pursue higher education. Stuck in turmoil between her cultural identity in front of others and the consequences of her decision, she realises how this move may impact her eligibility as a potential bride. The film will make its international premiere at DIFF.

The Muhr Emirati competition also presents the best of this year’s Gulf Film Festival. Hamad Al Hammadi’s End of December depicts an old man whose room has caught on fire, and in doing so, on the last day of December, he decides to undertake a trip with his single daughter. The film was the second runner-up at the Student Competition for Short Films at GFF 2011.
Jamal Salim’s Slow Death, winner of the ‘Special Mention’ prize at the Official Gulf Competition for Short Films at GFF 2011, is the story of a grave-digger forced into retirement after 30 years of services.
The line-up also includes other films from GFF 2011 including Rawia Abdullah’s The Missing Colour, narrating the story of an eight-year-old child who seeks to fill a void in her life; Talal Mahmood’s Abeer, a short tale of a simple girl; and Ibrahim Al Marzouqi’s Last Hope, is a short psychodrama that narrates the last hope of a man who escapes from death, only to be confronted by a death sentence.
Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Artistic Director, Dubai International Film Festival, said: “One of the founding objectives of DIFF has been to promote UAE-based filmmaking talent. The diversity of themes and genres, the quality of filmmaking, and the presence of new talent as well as returning filmmakers spreading their wings with new works is a positive sign for our nascent film industry. It proves we are doing something right. These are interesting and thought-provoking films.”

The Muhr Awards for Emirati filmmakers are one of three Festival competitions; alongside the Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica awards. The Emirati films will compete for three main prizes – first prize of AED35,000; a special jury prize of AED25,000; and second prize of AED15,000.

The Muhr Emirati showcase will be evaluated by an eminent jury headed by Syrian filmmaker Mohamed Malas and including Kuwaiti filmmaker Abdullah Boushahri and Emirati filmmaker Ahmed Saleem.

DIFF 2011 will screen 171 films from 56 nations representing the best of national, regional and world cinema between December 7 and 14 at the Mall of the Emirates, Madinat Jumeirah and The Walk at JBR.

The DIFF box office is now open online at www.dubaifilmfest.com. Additional information is also available through the Festival’s dedicated customer care number, 363 FILM (3456).

The Investment Corporation of Dubai is the title sponsor of the Dubai International Film Festival. The eighth edition of DIFF is held in association with Dubai Studio City. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah, home to the Dubai International Film Festival, are the principal sponsors of DIFF. The Festival is supported by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority. For more and updated information about DIFF, please visit www.dubaifilmfest.com