x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Sci-fi movie Serenity Now is short and sweet

Getting a special screening at DIFF on Saturday is Serenity Now is a sci-fi short film that was filmed entirely in the UAE.

A scene from Serenity Now. Courtesy Attitude Enterprises
A scene from Serenity Now. Courtesy Attitude Enterprises

The first sci-fi short film produced using an entirely UAE-based crew and shot in the UAE will be unveiled at a special invitation-only screening on Saturday.

Serenity Now has been produced in partnership with Dubai International Film Festival and the Middle East Film and Comic Convention, and because of its collaboration with DIFF, it was thought it would be unfair for the film to be allowed to compete in any of the festival’s awards categories. Instead, a special screening closed to members of the public will take place following the festival’s closing.

The film’s Iranian producer and director Ali Okhovat is also the managing partner of Media Production Company Attitude Enterprises.

He says: “DIFF invited people from all over the Middle East to enter a competition to find the best script. They had more than 40 qualified submissions, and Serenity Now won. So DIFF wants to put a spotlight on this film.

“The movie is really about the power of information and knowledge, and it is a very intense film. When you watch it, you will realise that when you combine the right story, the right talent and the right technology, you can deliver in just 15 minutes a world-class thrilling, sensational and intense experience.”

Serenity Now is set in a futuristic society in which an all-powerful government-controlled computer, called the Serenity Cell, contains the entire history of the world. The film’s hero, Adam, has a girlfriend who is more human compared with the robot-like government employees. Together they decide to change the history of the world by seeking out the cell. But Adam knows that the cell will kill him in the process of destroying it.

The UAE-based actors are a mix of nationalities, including Australian, Swedish and Russian. In the movie, they wear facial masks that contain all the data the government supplies them with. For make-up, Okhovat pulled in the Max Factor Arabia representative Samira Olfat, who has worked with superstars such as Eva Longoria and Nicole Scherzinger.

The script, written by the Dubai-based Briton Alastair Newton Brown, was given special treatment by the ­Hollywood sci-fi screenwriter Max Landis, who wrote the script for last year’s acclaimed Chronicle. In the project’s early stages, the Emirati filmmaker Ali F Mostafa was also ­involved.

Okhovat also cast the award-winning local talent Mik Allen as the director of photography. Allen has worked on blockbusters such as Love Actually, The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, and the pair met through working on TV commercials together in Dubai. The digital company Canon also collaborated with Attitude Enterprises in producing Serenity Now, and Allen used a Canon EOS C500 for the filming.

“The production demonstrates that when you empower and support talented and creative individuals, there are no limits to what they can achieve,” says Hendrik Verbrugghe, the marketing director of Canon Middle East.

The film was shot over two days at seven different sites, including a desert and a garden, with a crew of 20. “Special centres were created at three of the sites so that we were able to control the environment and we could shoot it quickly,” Okhovat explains. It then took the team another month to do the post-production graphics and 3-D effects.

The movie was only completed four weeks ago. “It took a lot of time for us to develop it in the way we did,” says Okhovat.

After the film appears at DIFF, it will be shown at nearly 30 film festivals across the world, Okhovat hopes that at the other festivals his movie will scoop the awards he was not able to compete for in Dubai.