x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

UAE shines a green light for the Abu Dhabi International Environmental Film Festival

Organised by Media Lab, the Abu Dhabi International Environmental Film Festival (try saying that with a mouthful of organic muesli) will be held from April 20-25 and will be screening both feature-length and short films from around the world.

The Abu Dhabi International Environmental Film Festival will take place next month.
The Abu Dhabi International Environmental Film Festival will take place next month.

If you've seen Roland Emmerich's 2004 disaster romp The Day After Tomorrow, you'll know already that the Earth as we know it is knackered. Yes, that's right, knackered, and it's all because you left the tap on while brushing your teeth.

Whether the film actually got anyone out there to rethink the gigantic carbon footprint that is their daily lifestyle is unknown, but it's clear there has been a huge rise in films focusing on the environment, thankfully not all featuring Dennis Quaid.

And should the planet manage to survive the next month without suffering a huge, crippling ice age in April, Abu Dhabi is going to be hosting its first film festival dedicated to the subject. Not only that, but it has just launched a Emirates-specific film competition inviting filmmakers to look at issues within the UAE.

The ADIEFF

Organised by Media Lab, the Abu Dhabi International Environmental Film Festival (try saying that with a mouthful of organic muesli) will be held from April 20 to 25 and will screen both feature-length and short films from around the world.

"We've received 158 movies from 42 countries," says Mohammad Monier, the festival's president, who adds that they're not all - as you might have expected - documentaries. "We've received several fiction films as well, it's very rare."

Local issues

Although submissions to the main international categories are closed, the recently announced Environmental Films from UAE competition is open until the end of the month. "The movie has to be about the environment of the Emirates," explains Monier. "But the filmmakers don't have to be local."

The films, which Monier says need to have been produced either in 2012 or 2011, have to be submitted before the end of March, and already eight films have been sent in from Emirati directors. "There's one about the life of a camel, another about how we can care for the desert and also one movie about the oryx. Another film looks at the life of the houbara bird."

Prizes

Several prizes will be handed out to the films chosen by the festival's judging committee. The top prize - the Golden Gazelle for Best Feature Film - will receive US$40,000 (Dh146,920), with $20,000 going to the special jury prize. On the shorts side of things, $20,000 will go to the Best Short Film and $10,000 to the special jury prize. In the UAE competition, prizes totalling Dh240,000 will be awarded.

Project award

Alongside the prizes given to films, there's also a competition for the best project. "We've received many ideas about environmental films and we'll choose the best one," says Monier. "The prize isn't monetary, it's that we will produce this movie," he says, adding that Dh200,000 will go towards equipment.

Disney addition

Although he can't, as yet, name them, Monier admits that he has arranged with Disneynature, the nature documentary arm of the Mickey Mouse empire, to bring two of its films to the festival. "And they're going to be world premieres," he says.

Moving forward

This year's ADIEFF might be the first, but the plan is to keep it going. "The first target of our festival is to motivate filmmakers to make films about the environment," says Monier. "I think the number of films we've already received - 158 - is a huge number for our first year. So next year I hope we'll be getting more than 200."

For more on the Abu Dhabi International Environmental Film Festival, which will be held from April 20 to 25, visit www.adieff.com

aritman@thenational.ae

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