x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

My UAE: Alwiya A Thani's life through a lens

A profile of Alwiya A Thani, an Emirati filmmaker.

Alwiya A Thani, who has made four short movies, works at Image Nation in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National
Alwiya A Thani, who has made four short movies, works at Image Nation in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Passion for life, colour and film best describes Alwiya A Thani.

"I just love life," says the 31-year-old Emirati filmmaker.

After playing with a video camera in her childhood, with her younger nieces and nephews acting out different roles assigned by her, Thani decided: "OK, I like this".

To appease her family, she studied business administration in Malaysia,then studied film at School of Audio Engineering Institute, Dubai.

After three years in banking, Thani moved into media. She has worked in TV, at Dubai One, then at Baynounah Media Group, and now works as a project manager at Image Nation Abu Dhabi, a company owned by Abu Dhabi Media, which also owns The National newspaper. She has also freelanced for commercial production firms.

"I am learning something new about the film industry every day. It is not as easy as I thought. There is a lot of work involved, and it is a business, not just art," she says.

Thani has made four short movies, each tackling a different theme, but all grounded in reality."I don't like fantasy or sci-fi. I like realistic settings and a story that has happened or could happen in the future."

Ashes to Dust (2005) was about cricket, while Exhale (2010) revolved around four families and the struggles between husbands and wives.

"I feel the man is the head and the woman is the neck, and the neck rotates and dictates the direction of the head," she says. "I feel women have a lot more power than men."

In 2011, she made The Trap, a detective thriller in which she played the main character, a female cop. Her latest film, Faith in Love, is currently at the post-production stage.

"I don't believe there are original stories anymore," she says. "They have all been done before, so the trick is to know how to tell the story."

Favourite perfume?

Chanel No 5, J’adore and Kim Kardashian’s line of perfumes, particularly the purple perfume.

Favourite designer?

For clothing, I wear anything comfortable. It is all about how you put the clothing together. The designer and labels don’t matter or define you.

Favourite car?

I like German cars. I’m currently driving a BMW X5.

Favourite film?

I like all romantic comedies. I hope to make a very good Emirati romantic comedy one day.

Favourite motto?

Follow your dreams.

Favourite coffee?

Black coffee. I think there is something about artists and coffee. We all drink coffee. My favourite is Dom Coffee.

Favourite pastime?

Buying things for the house: furniture, appliances. You will always find me getting something for the house.

Favourite actors?

George Clooney and Denzel Washington.

Favourite actresses?

Queen Latifah [pictured] and Julia Roberts.

Favourite books?

I am not a big reader, but I like all books by Danielle Steel, as they are realistic and romantic at the same time.

Favourite Emirati actor?

Mansoor Al Fili. I really respect him. He will go out of his way to help new filmmakers and students. Other actors and actresses want to be paid and want publicity. He just helps out.

Favourite dish?

I am going on a diet. I don’t like rice or French fries, but I love Italian food. I like all kinds of spaghetti and pizza. I love soup. Tomato soup has to be part of any meal.

Favourite fairy-tale film?

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Walt Disney one. I have watched it so many times. She is my heroine. And I also love Finding Nemo [pictured], it is the cutest ever. Who doesn’t love Nemo?

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