ABU DHABI // An audience of children was treated yesterday to the Middle East premiere of the family comedy Shorts, the first film to be co-produced by Imagenation, Abu Dhabi's multimillion-dirham film fund. The film, made in partnership with Warner Brothers, tells the story of a group of children who discover a rock with the power to grant wishes. As the children's wishes become increasingly elaborate, their quiet American suburb is beset by an army of crocodiles, huge insects and a giant robot.
The story is broken into chapters and narrated by the main character Toe Thomson, played by the American actor Jimmy Bennett, who continually gets the order of events wrong. The film was introduced by the MEIFF director, Peter Scarlet, who compared the story to the classic Arabian folk tale One Thousand and One Nights. "It starts, stops and goes back on itself just like that story did years ago," he said. "When I saw it in Hollywood a few months ago, it reminded me [of that story] in many ways."
The film was brought to life by the US director Robert Rodriguez, who is known for the Spy Kids series, as well as more mature fare, such as Desperado and Sin City. The director cast all five of his children in the film. "My favourite part was when the crocodile was about to eat the baby and then it freezes," said Grace Turner, 10, an audience member who lives in Abu Dhabi but is from Austin, Texas, where much of the film was shot.
Imagenation Abu Dhabi, which is owned by Abu Dhabi Media Company, which also owns The National, has a number of films in production or slated for release, including the family comedy Furry Vengeance, political thriller Fair Game, the horror remake The Crazies and the Second World War epic The Way Back. In January it was involved with the release of the Imax film Journey to Mecca. "This is the first real Imagenation co-production and the first time we will see our logo on the big screen in Abu Dhabi," said Stefan Brunner, the chief operating officer of Imagenation. "We hope all the kids and their parents enjoy it as much as we did."
Earlier on Saturday, 80 of Abu Dhabi's children were invited to an event at MEIFF's Festival Tent, followed by the chance to walk the red carpet before the screening. firstname.lastname@example.org