ABU DHABI // A satire about the education system in Lebanon won best overall film at the UAE's first student-only festival last night. Young filmmakers from across the region gathered at Zayed University for the results of the festival. Naji Bechara, a student at Notre Dame University-Louaize in Lebanon, won the Dh10,000 (US$2,700) top prize for Talk to the Brain.
Sharooq Shaheen, a student at Qatar University, won best documentary for Lady of the Rosary, about the building of a church in Qatar. Amjad al Rasheed, who attends the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts in Jordan, won best narrative for Bitter Days, about a poor girl who shines shoes for a living. Both won Dh5,000. The winners were chosen from more than 70 entries from across the Middle East. The initial entries were whittled down to 12 finalists by the media faculty members at Zayed University. The three top films were chosen by Peter Scarlet, the director of the Middle East International Film Festival (Meiff), Greg Unrau, Abu Dhabi Film Commission's head of production and training, and Alia Younis, a writer, filmmaker and professor at Zayed University.
Abdul Salam al Hajj, who also attends Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts, won audience favourite for Youssef, about a young man struggling to let go of a painful past. Reem al Majed, 21, a public relations and advertising student at Zayed University, came up with the idea for the festival during her stint as a volunteer at Meiff. Hamad Abdullah Saghran, 22, said he was thrilled to have been selected as a finalist for his 15-minute film, Expectancy, about three characters waiting for a life-changing moment.
"It has given me more trust in myself to make more films," he said. Mr Saghran, who attends the Higher Colleges of Technology, said the festival was important not only to recognise the films but to build up a network of people interested in film. @Email:email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org