x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Tackling tough subject matter in limited time

We look at five of the Emirati films chosen as part of the Gulf Film Festival Official Competition: Gulf Student's Shorts.

A still from A Fallible Girl, 2013. Courtesy. Gulf Film FEstival
A still from A Fallible Girl, 2013. Courtesy. Gulf Film FEstival

The anger in her voice grew as she described the true story of a girl at her university allegedly killed by her own brother for reportedly having relations with another man.

The 25-year-old Emirati filmmaker Fatima Al Baloushi's short film In Case You Forgot has been selected as part of the Gulf Film Festival's official entry in the Gulf Students' Shorts competition. The project, inspired by true stories similar to that of the murdered female student, focuses on two Emirati males spending much of their time picking up women yet forcing their own sisters to stay at home.

"Our society is changing and developing, yet it annoys me hearing stories about girls getting seriously hurt by their brothers and this is what I wanted to highlight in the film," says Al Baloushi. "It's very sad that some girls do end up losing their lives. I hope this film affects families, parents and men because what's wrong is wrong."

Despite facing some challenges, Al Baloushi persevered in creating the film because she wants to point out the injustice and hypocrisy in such cases, which are not accepted by her religion.

"These types of cases also give the wrong impression of Islam," she says.

Also tackling tough subject matter are the filmmakers Fatima Abdulrahim and Haneen Alhammadi, whose documentary short Living in Limbo investigates the difficulty faced by former prisoners as they attempt to reintegrate into society.

"We wanted to highlight how ex-prisoners try to positively change their lives and society's perception of them," says 22-year-old Alhammadi. "We all make mistakes. It's about giving second chances."

The girls spoke to Dubai and Sharjah police and a major bank to get their position on where such companies stand in hiring ex-detainees.

"[The bank] told us it's easy for ex-prisoners to apply for jobs and have a fair opportunity, but when we spoke to ex-detainees, this was not the case," says Alhammadi. "They still faced difficulties. We also faced some difficulties just making the project - we are two girls going into jails and to police and trying to find an ex-prisoner willing to talk."

The 23-year-old Emirati student Ebrahim Najem Al Rasbi's short film Moments focuses on keeping the memory of those we love alive.

In the film, two friends reminisce about their friend who had just passed away.

"In the beginning, they do not know he is dead," says Al Rasbi. "It's a drama with a touch of comedy that highlights the different relationships we have and the love between friends."

Moving slightly away from his first controversial documentary The Gamboo'a Revolution, about the hairpiece worn by women beneath their shayla for a beehive effect, the student director Abdulrahman Al Madani is now working on a mystery.

His short film Guilt shows a young boy suffering from the consequences of a bad decision he made earlier in the day and the guilt that overcomes him.

MEl-Shoush@thenational.ae

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