x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Film director wants to follow female UAE students

Varon Bonicos, whose look at the life of fashion designer Ozwald Boateng, was screened at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival last night, has a project in the Emirates in mind.

Ozwald Boateng is the subject of a film screened last night at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival.
Ozwald Boateng is the subject of a film screened last night at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

ABU DHABI // Varon Bonicos, a documentary filmmaker whose A Man's Story, a look at the life of fashion designer Ozwald Boateng, was screened last night at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, next wants to film a group of female students in the UAE from their first day of classes to their graduation.

"I'm learning about the culture here and have already gone to the college. Immediately, all the preconceptions I had about Emirati women totally vanished when I saw these really cool teenagers doing amazing things," said Bonicos.

He said he is looking for a female Emirati director to take on the bulk of the work on the project.

"I would absolutely love to do this project and I cannot wait," said Bonicos. "It will have a futuristic theme, following a group of about six or seven students throughout their entire education."

A Man's Story documents the triumphs and failures of Boateng, who is credited with injecting new life into the epicentre of men's bespoke tailoring, Savile Row in London.

The director is no stranger to the industry: he grew up playing with rolls of film on the floor of his father's office, in England's Pinewood Studios. He later worked as an assistant film editor, and then moved into directing news and current affairs programming for television.

"What I have learnt in the UAE is that they have wide vision and understanding of the term 'inshallah', meaning 'god willing'. That is exactly what [A Man's Story] is about," said Mr Bonicos. "I couldn't have picked a better place for the premiere."

A Man's Story follows every step of Boateng's life from 1998 to 2010. "I thought I could make a good film about a guy doing a fashion show, but as it progressed, it's actually not a documentary; it's a film and Ozwald is the muse - a representation of all men."

Boateng, whose clients include Barack Obama, the actor Will Smith, David Bowie and many more famous people, began his professional life as a tailor.

"Very few documentaries explore the story of a man's life," said Steve Milne, one of the producers of the film. "It took 12 years, and that is so unique because you feel you are taking the journey with him - you laugh with him and feel sad for him. It is beautifully crafted."

Mr Milne, the former chief executive for Molinare, the post-production company in the UK behind award-winning documentaries such Man on Wire, only recently made the shift to producing and financing films.

"I came to be a part of A Man's Story quite by chance," he said. "I had bought one of Ozwald's suits to wear at my wedding, and when the co-producers contacted me to join, I said 'absolutely'".

melshoush@thenational.ae