x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Students win Dh10,000 for Zayed the First film

University history project takes 'unusual' approach with documentary based on account by visiting German photographer.

Maisoon Abdul Hameed is one of three Zayed University students to win Dh10,000 and internships with Adach for their film about Sheikh Zayed the First.
Maisoon Abdul Hameed is one of three Zayed University students to win Dh10,000 and internships with Adach for their film about Sheikh Zayed the First.

ABU DHABI // When three young women made a short film about Sheikh Zayed the First for their university history project, the last thing they expected was to be rewarded for their efforts. But last week Salama al Hameli, Maisoon Hamid and Reeham Saleh, all students at Zayed University, won Dh10,000 (US$2,700) in a competition held in conjunction with Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach). The prize will be presented on Tuesday at the Jahili Fort in Al Ain, as part of the centenary celebrations for Sheikh Zayed the First, who died on May 19 1909. The students will also be offered eight-week placements with Adach. "We are very excited to have won," said Ms Hamid. "We worked very hard and we are so happy to accept the award." All students from the history and heritage course entered their final projects on Zayed the First. They included a gallery of old photographs from the National Centre for Documentation and Research, a handwritten biography and individually designed postcards with facts and figures about the late leader's life. The winning submission was a four-minute film based on a document written by Hermann Burkhardt, a German photographer, after he visited the country in the late 19th century. They had chosen it because they thought it would give the sheikh's story another dimension, said Ms al Hameli. "It is easy to find a local with good things to say about Zayed the First, but quite unusual to hear a foreigner's account." The students shot the film at the Heritage Village with their friends taking the parts of the sheikh and his wife. They asked their German professor to do the voiceover in English as they felt his accent would give the film authenticity. The film and eight other entries from their fellow students were presented to the competition's judges, Jane Bristol-Rhys and Christopher Brown from Zayed University and Dr Moussa al Hawari and Saeed bin Kiraz from Adach. When the results were announced the girls hugged each other with joy. Dr Brown said the prize of an internship with Adach was "a great opportunity" for the girls. "Adach is a big player in the arts and culture field and there is so much going on it is a hive of activity; the girls will be able to see how it works and be able to judge whether they would like to work for the organisation." Dr Bristol-Rhys said she was proud of all her students' achievements. "They have done all the work themselves and really enjoyed the project," she said. "It started off as a small piece of the course but it just so happened to coincide with the sheikh's centenary so we decided to work with Adach. It has been very successful." Nasma al Fahim, one of the ­students who made postcards from old photographs, said the project had made her proud to be Emirati. "We didn't know that much about Zayed the First before we started but now we know him as the father of the nation as well as a great leader. It has made me proud of my heritage," she said. All the competition entries will be on show at the Jahili Fort from Tuesday and following that they will be displayed at the Cultural Foundation. aseaman@thenational.ae