x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

A place among stars

Jean Reno advances upon new territory with his latest film, The Philospher, under the direction of Abdullah al Kaabi, a young Emirati whose own short career is also worthy of note.

There are few actors quite like Jean Reno. A 30-year presence on the silver screen has seen the Moroccan-born actor appear in French, Italian and English-language films, playing everyone from a ruthless spy in Mission Impossible to a 12th-century knight in Les Visiteurs.

He advances upon new territory with his latest film, The Philosopher, under the direction of a young Emirati whose own short career is also worthy of note. Abdullah al Kaabi, a 24-year-old film student, is at the helm of the 17-minute film that premieres at the Dubai International Film Festival this week.

To attract talent such as Mr Reno's for a first-time film is noteworthy on its own, but add in a script supervisor who has worked with Alfred Hitchcock, a crew normally reserved for Luc Besson - not to mention generous funding from an eager producer - and this 17-minute short is nothing short of remarkable.

As we report today, the humble Mr al Kaabi credits his success to a team effort that involved everyone from Sylvette Baudrot, an 80-year-old script legend, to his own classmates. But while modesty may be one of the young filmmaker's traits, a lack of ambition is not. He already has two other films in the pipeline, projects that may propel him into the ranks of other up-and-coming Arab filmmakers.