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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Dubai’s Middle East Film and Comic Con 2015 a stellar event

While many eyes may have been on the stellar celebrity guest list on the opening day of this year’s Middle East Film and Comic Con, there was also a healthy focus on local productions.
While many eyes may have been on the stellar celebrity guest list on the opening day of this year’s Middle East Film and Comic Con, there was also a healthy focus on local productions. Courtesy Ghanem Ghubash
While many eyes may have been on the stellar celebrity guest list on the opening day of this year’s Middle East Film and Comic Con, there was also a healthy focus on local productions. Courtesy Ghanem Ghubash

While many eyes may have been on the stellar celebrity guest list on the opening day of this year’s Middle East Film and Comic Con, there was also a healthy focus on local productions.

Among the highlights was the premier of the trailer for the Emirati-produced Aerials, which the producers say is the UAE’s, and possibly the Arab world’s, first feature-length sci-fi film, and the premier of local filmmaker Faisal Hashmi’s latest short, Sleight.

Aerials reunites Emirati producer Ghanem Ghoubash and Dubai-based director S A Zaidi, who previously collaborated on 2013’s A Tale of Two Suns. It stars veteran Emirati actor Mansoor Al Feeli and Djinn’s Abeer Mohammed.

The trailer shows Dubai invaded by aliens, complete with impressive shots of an alien spaceship hovering over the Burj Khalifa. The film is in the later stages of post-production, and the makers say they are in talks with distributors and hope to have it in cinemas by the end of the year.

“This is all in-house production, and we’re boasting that we’re the only production with such quality 3D animation here,” says Zaidi. “We privately funded it, including myself and Ghanem. We’ve been shooting for almost two years, so we’re being picky about distributors – we need to get it in cinemas to make our money back.”

Hashmi’s latest short film, features Virgin Radio’s Brent Black playing a late-night radio DJ whose on-air rant about magicians leads to some unexpected twists and consequences.

Hashmi is in the process of arranging further public screenings, including one at Dubai’s Classic Rock Cafe on April 16. Check Hashmic House Films’ Facebook page for details.

There was also plenty of international talent on show at MEFCC on Friday. Fans were treated to question-and-answer sessions with sci-fi icon William Shatner (Star Trek’s original Captain James T Kirk) and Marvel’s Agent Peggy Carter, Hayley Atwell. She apologised for her late arrival by revealing she’d left chilly London in a woollen dress and tights, only to arrive in Dubai’s 30-plus degree temperatures to discover her luggage had been lost. So she had to shop for some cooler clothes before braving the World Trade Centre heat.

The show has taken over an additional hall at DWTC this year but by it’s midafternoon peak it still seemed even more jam-packed with visitors than last year’s record-breaking event as fans traversed the comic-book and movie-memorabilia dealers, display stands from global giants such as Marvel and Star Wars, an outdoor stage with live music, guest appearances, the reliably kooky cosplay competition, the Game Zone and, for my money the greatest thing ever seen – a human-sized, real-life Pac-Man game, complete with ghost and Pac-Man outfits.

There’s plenty more to come on Saturday, not least the appearance of X-Files star Gillian Anderson, Flash Gordon’s Sam Jones, and sword-fighting lessons with Game of Thrones’ Miltos Yerolemou, as well as plenty more of the insane costumes, games and onstage antics that make the event such fun every year, whether you’re a hardcore member of the geek fraternity or a befuddled observer.

One-day tickets are still available for Dh130 on the door, so if you’re looking for something entirely different to a visit to your local mall this weekend, I really can’t recommend it highly enough.

cnewbould@thenational.ae