x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Feeding Five Hundred: Emirati's catwalk to film fame

Al Harthi's debut movie was chosen from 2,372 entries and is the only Arab film to screen at this year's Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival in the UK.

A scene from Rafed Al Harthi's film Feeding Five Hundred which is to be screened at Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival. Photo courtesy twofour54
A scene from Rafed Al Harthi's film Feeding Five Hundred which is to be screened at Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival. Photo courtesy twofour54

An Emirati documentary about a man determined to feed 500 stray cats a day has been chosen to screen at this month's Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival in the UK.

Feeding Five Hundred, directed by UAE national Rafed Al Harthi, is the first Emirati film to be chosen for the festival, which is a qualifier for awards including the Oscars and the Baftas.

It is also the only Arab film chosen from 2,372 entries this year.

It was produced and supported by the Abu Dhabi media zone twofour54's creative lab.

"I'd like to extend my thanks to the team at twofour54 creative lab who supported and produced Feeding Five Hundred," said Al Harthi, 25. "I am passionate about filmmaking and this could lead to anything."

Liz Harkman, managing director of the festival, said organisers were delighted to be showing Al Harthi's film in Bristol.

"It's great to see such strong work coming from the developing film industry in the Emirates," she said.

Al Harthi's debut film is set in the UAE and tells the story of the man, who has vowed to feed 500 cats each day since 1995.

The film is in Arabic with English subtitles and has been screened at three international festivals this year and selected for four more.

Al Harthi started his career on screen, first as a volunteer and later as a professional presenter on Abu Dhabi TV where he regularly introduces his own show Min Alkhater.

After taking part in the Young Media Leaders programme, run by twofour54's training academy Tadreeb, he developed a passion for documentary filmmaking.

Since its establishment in 2010, the creative lab has worked across media platforms such as short film, music, online applications, electronic games and publishing.

It has completed 57 projects and helped more than 500 young people to take their first steps in the media industry. Feeding Five Hundred is its first documentary production.

Noura Al Kaabi, chief executive of twofour54, said the film's selection for such a prestigious festival was a "well-deserved recognition" for the filmmaker and the organisation.

"The acclaim that the film is receiving demonstrates not just Rafed's talent as a filmmaker, but also the calibre of productions developed by young UAE talent from twofour54's creative lab community," Ms Al Kaabi said.

"It is very exciting that the first documentary produced by creative lab has been so well received, especially because it's a genre that has great potential in the region."

Feeding Five Hundred is eligible for awards in three categories at the festival - the Brief Encounters Grand Prix Award, the Audience Award and the Best Short Documentary Award.

 

vtodorova@thenational.ae