x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

A league of their own

This year's Emirati filmmakers are facing competition among themselves. That in itself is a remarkable statement.

This year's Emirati filmmakers are facing competition among themselves. That in itself is a remarkable statement.

Though local film production is still a nascent industry in the UAE, filmmakers have sprung up throughout the country, determined to tell their own tales.

According to our cover story in Arts & Life today, the films in the Muhr Emirati category at the Dubai International Film Festival have had audiences in stitches and tears. The sold-out viewings speak of the thirst for local narratives written and directed by Emirati talent, and from the reaction of the festival's participants, it is a welcome change from previous years. "This year, they saw that there was maturity," said Saeed Aldhaheri, an Emirati filmmaker referring to DIFF's decision to include an Emirati competition. "They wanted to open the door and show the world that there are filmmakers here in the Emirates."

Though a lack of funding has impended filmmaking in the past, the Dh35,000 prize will go a long way to helping up-and-coming talent realise their dreams.

And with past examples such as Ali Mostafa's feature-length success, City of Life, and this year's The Philosopher - an impressive short that stars the French actor Jean Reno and is directed by the 24-year-old Abdullah al Kaabi - there are certainly top acts to follow.