Five UAE Films, Directors to be Showcased at Special Dubai International Film Festival Event

Sat Dec 04,2004

As part of the Dubai International Film Festival, a showcase of UAE cinema will be screened to the public and Festival delegates from around the world on Thursday, December 9, Festival organizers announced yesterday at Dubai Media City. Three of the four short films are in Arabic with English subtitles, one is a silent work and the feature film is in English with Arabic subtitles.

The UAE Special Event, featuring the works of five emerging Emirati directors, comprises four short films and one feature film. Together, the films provide an overview of UAE society and the range of UAE cinema, said Festival programmer Masoud Amralla Al Ali, and are must-see viewing for both expatriates in the country and visitors from abroad.

“My intention in selecting films for this special showcase was to show a variety of our films and different aspects of our society,” said Amralla, founder-director of the Emirates Film Competition and programmer of the Festival’s Arabian Nights segment.

In many ways, Amralla’s task was made difficult by an embarrassment of cinematic riches. “The hardest thing to do is when you have two beautiful films and you have to say no to one of them,” he said. “I chose to present an overall view of the UAE society and cinema, and that meant saying no to many promising films and filmmakers.”

The four shorts – Aushba’s Well, Cigarettes, Jawhara and Wet Tiles – reflect the past, present and future of the country and different cinematic styles, he added.

Aushba’s Well, from Ras Al Khaimah-based director Waleed Al Shehhi, is a portrait of the natural landscape, a reflection on the nature of dreams and how they affect reality and vice versa. “Aushba’s Well goes back to the UAE of the 1970s, and also looks at the physical diversity of our land,” explained Amralla. “Al Shehhi is an accomplished director, and Aushba’s Well is almost poetic in the way it is composed.”

Cigarettes is the story of a modern career woman’s conflict between her successful career as a TV presenter and her love for a man. Its director, Mohammed Al Traifi, won a special mention at this year’s Emirates Film Competition.

Jawhara, the award-winning film from Dubai director Hani Al Shaibani, tells the story of a child who struggles between two different worlds. The film won the Best Short Film prizes at the Emirates Film Competition and the Mid East Film Festival in Beirut, plus a special mention at the Carthage Film Festival.

Lastly, Wet Tiles, from 22-year-old director Lamya Hussain Gargash examines a mysterious relationship between a man and a woman.

“The Festival’s UAE Special Event is a wonderful opportunity for the UAE community and the rest of the world to see what our national filmmaking community can achieve,” Amralla added. “Wet Tiles, for example, is an entirely experimental film that evolved out of a university project while Cigarettes has a completely unique sense of humour. By choosing these films, I wanted to show that we don’t only do drama, that we make social films, light-hearted films and introspective films.”

The feature film Unveiling Dubai will also be shown at the UAE Special Event, and is included in the Festival’s “Operation Cultural Bridge” flagship program. Directed by UAE national Nayla Al Khaja, the documentary-style feature depicts Dubai as seen through the eyes of a first-time visitor from the West.

“In many ways, Unveiling Dubai is at the heart of the Festival because it raises the question of bridging cultures, and shows how Dubai is the right place for such an initiative,” said Neil Stephenson, Festival Director and CEO. “What makes it even more special is that this bridge-building film has been created by a UAE woman director.”

“We first thought of programming this film in either the “Arabian Shorts” or “Arabian Nights” segment, but then we realized it was a perfect fit in “Operation Cultural Bridge”,” Stephenson added.

The Festival’s UAE Special Event will begin at 5.30 pm on Thursday, December 9, at the Madinat Theatre and will begin with an introduction to the directors and end with a Q&A session to enable members of the audience to engage with the five directors.

Three DIFF box offices are currently open for business: at the CNN Building Lobby in Dubai Media City from 11 am to 6 pm until December 6, and until 8 pm during the Festival; at the Madinat Theatre in the Souk at Madinat Jumeirah from 11 am to 9 pm until December 6 and until 10.30 pm during the Festival; and at the Mercato mall from 10 am to 6.30 pm until December 6, and until 10.30 pm during the Festival.

Additional box offices will open on December 7 at the Madinat Arena, and at the Auditorium at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel on December 8.

Prices range from Dh. 10 for the four open-air “Screen on the Green” films (Lawrence of Arabia, the Filipino spoof Gagamboy (Spiderman), Mr. India and Five Children and It) at the Dubai Media City amphitheater to Dh. 20 for regular screenings at DIFF main venues and Dh. 50 for the red-carpet gala screenings at the Madinat Arena, Madinat Jumeirah Arabian Resort-Dubai.

Two special offers – student discounts and a Five-Flick deal that offers a set of five regular screening tickets for the price of four – have also been created to make the Festival accessible to all UAE residents and visitors.

Telephone bookings and orders can be made with the Box Office on (04) 367 6701 / (04) 367 6707 for advance bookings and directions to box office venues.

The Dubai International Film Festival will be held between December 6 and 11, 2004, and will feature approximately 75 films including features, retrospectives and short films. The Festival is divided into 10 distinct programs, each focusing on a particular Festival theme. DIFF is presented by Dubai Media City and its presenting sponsors are Dubai Duty Free, Emirates, Madinat Jumeirah Arabian Resort-Dubai, and Nakheel.  DIFF Gold Sponsors are DOM International, The Kanoo Group and National Bank of Dubai, and Silver Sponsors are Arabian Radio Network, Atlas Telecom, Dubai Radio Network, E-Vision and Motivate Publishing.

Presented By
Supported by
In Association With