Arab stars of Tomorrow – are stars of today!
By : Kerry Baggott
Thu Dec 8, 2016

From the delighted look on their faces it was as if they had already won an Oscar as five of the most promising stars of the Arab film industry were announced yesterday on the inaugural day of the 13th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival.
Indeed, being hand-picked by Screen International, one of the premiere film industry publications, as a Star of Tomorrow is a promising accolade.
Having been running the initiative for 13 years in the UK, the esteemed journal has finally joined forces with DIFF to launch Arab Stars of Tomorrow.
To liken the talent-spotting process to the X Factor of the film world would be grossly unfair (it’s far more professional than that). But where the similarity does lie is in the fact that the chosen few who are handpicked from hundreds of talented actors and directors out there will more than likely become household names this time next year.
So take note of these names - Mounia Akl, Mariam El Ferjani, Amjad Al-Rasheed, Samer Ismail, Samer Ismail. They may be new to you now but these are the people that have been earmarked as the ‘next big thing’ on the screens of Arabia.
The work of Lebanese director Mounia Akl, can be appreciated first hand when her short movie Submarine, is shown this week as part of DIFF’s Muhr Shorts category.
Likewise, also in this category is Jordanian director Amjad Al-Rasheed’s film The Parrot, which is a world premiere at the Festival.
Meanwhile, Samer Ismail, who is renowned within the Arab world for his roles on television, makes his film debut in Ali Mosafa’s The Worthy, showing on Friday 9th December at 6pm at Madinat Arena and again at Mall of the Emirates Vox Cinema on Monday 12th December at 6.15pm.
We’ll have to wait for the 2017 film festival circuit to see Mariam El Ferjani, the Tunisian artist and actress, play the lead role the upcoming film Beauty and The Dogs.
And, completing the lineup is Moroccan filmmaker Alaa Eddine Aljem who is currently developing his debut short Saint Inconnu at Sundance.
Screen International clearly knows what it’s talking about having become known for its talent-spotting prowess.
British and Irish talent that the publication has earmarked in its infancy is that of The Theory Of Everything Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne (2005), Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch (2004), Twilight actor Robert Pattinson (2005), Star Wars: The Force Awakens star John Boyega (2011); as well as filmmakers Andrew Haigh, Andrea Arnold, Corin Hardy and Stephen Fingleton.
It was also Screen International that listed Joe Alwyn in its 2015 line-up, who went on to take the lead role in the recently released war drama Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk directed by two-time Oscar winner Ang Lee [showing on Thursday 8th December at 10pm at Madinat Arena].

Kerry Baggott