Raneen, a film from Oman by Maitham Al Musawi
Eighteen young filmmakers from the Gulf region, Yemen and Iraq are competing for the Gulf Competition – Students Awards at the fourth edition of the Gulf Film Festival to be held from April 14 to 20 at Dubai Festival City. The films were shortlisted from hundreds of entries received from a growing community of young Arab filmmakers.
Five films from the UAE by Emirati students or students based in the country are marking their World Premiere at GFF. Emirati Mohammed Ghanim Al Marri’s Al Seefah is a fictional drama that conveys the problems that many UAE nationals face, as explored through the eyes of an old fisherman. An Egyptian student and filmmaker Karim Mansour portrays the tale of a teenager in the eponymous film, Magda. She arrives to Dubai with her father, and discovers that she is very different from everyone around her. The short charts her attempts to fit in with the crowd.
Emirati 2D animator and music composer Mohammad Fikree brings an action, adventure, animation with Mad Camel which depicts the story of Omar, his father and uncle, who are attacked by an infected mad camel while on a desert trip. Emirati short, 11:00PM by director Khalid Al Abdulla, is a horror thriller about a man who works on a night shift in a company but should be out of the building by 11 pm. But danger awaits; a killer is lurking in the darkness.
Saeed Salem Almas directs Undergone, a short film about a youngster’s journey to self-discovery. The protagonist realizes that he is the author of his own misfortunes, and sometimes we only need simple things to make a transformational life-shift. Also on the short competition is Emirati student-director Hamad Al Hammadi’s End of December.
Three films from Oman are premiering for the first time in the world at GFF while a fourth makes its International Premiere. Sarmad Abdul Hameed Al-Zoubidy’s Accident is about the impact of accidents, and how it affect several unrelated individuals; while adventure drama Raneen by Maitham Al Musawi is about a curious young boy who meets a sick girl in a depressing hospital and start a new friendship. Issa Al Subhi’s Before Sunset is another experimental fiction from Oman. In its first-international screening, Style by Sultan Al Hussaini humorously depicts the shifting style preferences of today’s youngsters.
There are two entries from Saudi Arabia: Mohammed Bahadi’s The I-Pencil Project, an animation fantasy that takes viewers through an extended adventurous voyage mired with obstacles to find the right path; and Mansour Albadran’s Maher Camera, a fiction comedy about Maher, a talented photographer who decides to participate in a photography competition about tourism in Saudi Arabia and has to face several difficulties. Both films make their World Premiere at GFF.
The lone entry from Kuwait is Abdulrahman Al Salman’s Noura, a romantic tale that makes its World Premiere at GFF. The film is about Salim, who is in love with his neighour’s daughter, Noura. He flirts with the girl using made-up poems, and the film explores the reaction of youngsters as the society refuses to accept their love.
An American production, Malak Quota’s Free As A Bird is an experimental animation that evokes the feelings of entrapment. The film is seen through the images of several entrapped birds that are surrounded by animated and flying free birds. Marking its International Premiere at GFF, the film was the semi-finalist at the Angelus Student Film Festival and had entered the Maverick Movie Awards, Adobe First Frame Festival and Dallas Video Fest.
There are four entries by Qatari students. Mohammed Al-Ibrahim directs Land of Pearls about a pearl shopkeeper Saad, who tells his grandson, Rashid, the story of what his life was like as a younger man, in order to bring Rashid and his father closer together.
Faisal Al-Thani’s Demi-Plie is about an Arab girl who facing traditional and cultural barriers decides to question whether it is worth pursuing her lifelong dream, while Sophia Al-Maria’s Kanary is about a Qatari teenager Najla, who alienated from her family and their rules becomes a rebel. But when she is caught riding in a car with a boy, it is a duel between father and daughter for the prize of forgiveness. All the three films were screened at Doha Tribeca Festival and make their UAE Premiere at GFF. Also from Qatar is Wafa Al Saffar’s Um Al Sebian.
Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Festival Director, said: “The films short-listed for the Gulf Competition –Students Shorts category are distinct in the approach of the youngsters towards the medium of films. They are bold enough to push accepted norms and their creative flourish is often surprising, especially in the way they have structured their narrative.”
The winners in the Shorts category receive AED20,000, AED15,000, and AED10,000 for the first, second and third prizes, respectively. A Special Jury Prize of AED15,000 also goes to the best documentary or short.
The Students Competition – Shorts will be screened on Friday, April 15, 2011 at 3 pm (Grand Cinema 8 at Dubai Festival City); Saturday, April 16 at 3.15 pm (Grand Cinema 8); Sunday, April 17 at 12 pm (Grand Cinema 10); and Tuesday, April 19 at 3 pm (Grand Cinema 10).
The Gulf Film Festival is the home of bold, experimental and contemporary cinema from the Arabian peninsula, and the fourth edition will be held at the InterContinental Hotel and Grand Cinemas at Dubai Festival City. The 2011 Festival includes out-of-competition segments, a master class by renowned director Abbas Kiarostami and other special events. All films are free and open to the public