x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Gulf Film Festival diary

A film about internet predators and another about a poor area of Sharjah that is the frequent subject of jokes are among those in the running for a short film prize at the Gulf Film Festival.

Scene from Mutiny. Courtesy Gulf Film Festival
Scene from Mutiny. Courtesy Gulf Film Festival

It is the place in which he was born and where his mother and father first fell in love. Yet, Um Khanoor, a simple area in Sharjah, has often been the subject of many jokes, says the Emirati filmmaker and playwright Talal Mahmood.

“I was born there,” says Mahmood. “It’s a very humble place but people often speak badly about it. For example if you have a bad haircut or fashion style, then you ‘must be from Um Khanoor’ and I want to change this.

“It’s like you’re watching a feature film and I hope it touches people’s hearts. I’ve been involved in theatre since 2000 and always had the idea for this movie in my mind,” says Mahmood.

The romantic comedy has been selected as part of the Official Competition Gulf Shorts and is based on four interconnected true stories. The next showing is today at 3pm in Grand Cinemas 7.

Also featured in the Gulf Shorts competition is Mirage.Net, about a young Emirati girl who is lured via the internet by six men, then beaten and raped. The film, by the Emirati filmmaker Mansoor Al Dhaheri, is based on a true story.

“Through Mirage.Net I want girls to be aware of the dangers, which of course are not just specific to the UAE. It is international, and if we can help save even just one girl,” says Al Dhaheri. “These predators, luring young women, often pretend to be someone they are not.”

Another contender for the Gulf Shorts prize is Mutiny, about a chef suffering from a rare medical disorder which causes him to lose control of his left hand. The film is written by Khalid Al Jabri and directed by Ibrahim Al Marzouqi.

“I read about a real-life case six years ago where the patient had no control of one of his hands,” says Al Jabri, who is from Dubai. “So I took that and developed the character as a chef.”

The film premiered at the 2012 Dubai International Film Festival and plans are underway to screen it in Abu Dhabi for those who missed it.

“People have interpreted it in different ways,” says Al Jabir. “Some see it as political, others social and phsycological. It’s about how to continue your life if you experience setbacks and dealing with inner battles.”


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