Five American University of Sharjah films shortlisted at Festival de Cannes
American University of Sharjah (AUS), ranked one of the top 450 universities worldwide by QS World University Ranking, announced today that four student short films directed by AUS students taking courses in its College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) and one film by an AUS CAAD professor have been shortlisted at the Festival de Cannes’ Court Métrage (Cannes Festival Short Films Corner) this year.
The four student films were among 1,945 registered short films represented this year in the Cannes Festival Short Film Corner from 88 countries. The Short Film Corner will generate more than 35,930 viewings among almost 3,000 registered film industry critics, producers, directors and financiers.
These four student films were shortlisted from a group of 10 films submitted by AUS students this year and point to the high level of cinematic quality output and the pioneering work being done at the university as well as its untiring efforts to hone the skills of aspiring regional filmmakers.
The four shortlisted student films vying for the Palme d’Or prize are On The Edge, Shiddi 7eilik, Grief and Hessa directed by Hana Kazim, Salma El-Shami and Areeb Al-Shathri, Omnia ElAfifi, and Rashed Al Nuaimi, respectively. As a result of making the shortlist, these directors have the opportunity to present their films to global audiences, critics and industry personalities, as the Short Films Corner is the essential platform for showcasing new talent for global filmmakers.
Dr. Thomas Hochstettler, AUS Provost and Acting Chancellor said, “I am very pleased at the success of our film prodigies at Festival de Cannes this year. We believe that the young talent of today will be the big names of cinema in the future, and our talent has found a great platform to project itself onto the international stage at the Festival de Cannes Court Métrage. They will learn from the Marché du Film exhibitors and those in the Village International. They will network with the leading figures in the industry, including institutions, financiers and the most important international reps in the film business. It is a wonderful opportunity for mingling with extraordinarily gifted people, exchanging ideas and promoting their films. I wish them great success.”
Dr. Hochstettler added, “We are very pleased that AUS-made films are now regularly screened at Cannes. This recognition affirms the high standard of excellence in the quality of education that AUS offers to its student. It is also a high-level reward for the hard work the students and faculty do every day as they apply what is taught and learned. I congratulate the students and professors, and wish them the best of luck for their films at Cannes.”
In addition to the four student films, the film Four Days by Jack Swanstorm, Assistant Professor of Design at the AUS College of Architecture, Art and Design, has also been accepted into the Court Metrageat at the festival. “This film was partially completed due to a generous grant from AUS. As such, it could not have been finished without the university’s support,” Swanstorm said.
The jury for the Festival de Cannes’ Court Métrage competition comprises Jane Campion, film director from New Zealand; Maji-da Abdi actress, director and producer from Ethiopia; Nicoletta Braschi, actress and producer from Italy; Nandita Das, actress and director from India; and Semih Kaplanoğlu, writer, director and producer from Turkey.
Rashed Al Nuaimi directed and acted in Hessa, a product of the AUS Multimedia Design Studio taught by Ludmil Trenkov. Hessa is about a woman whose life stories help to instill good traits in people but whose stories have been forgotten by her great-grandchildren. It is an example of stories of people that are forgotten without their great tales enriching our lives.
Grief, written, directed, acted in and edited by Omnia ElAfifi, is a product of the Film Production II course taught by Jack Swanstrom. The story revolves around a young girl who expresses the grieving process by going through its five stages. The “five stages” that originally described the grief process of a person who was dying have been applied to those that are still living.
Hana Kazim wrote, directed, acted in and edited On The Edge, a product of the Film Production II course taught by Jack Swanstrom. In it, the hero relives his journey to the edge and the devices that led him to his current situation.
Shiddi 7eilik, written, directed, acted in and edited by Salma El-Shami and Areeb Al-Shathri, is a product of the Narrative Structure in Film course taught by Tim Kennedy. It follows a documentary crew as they attempt to uncover the lengths young women go to get married. Along the way, the crew is introduced to interesting characters, a marriage boot camp, and the pressures that Arab society places on unwed women.
“Shiddi 7eilik is a film that I and a lot of young women can relate to. It was a lot of fun making it, and to see it come to life and having it get this kind of exposure is more than we could ask for,” said El-Shami.
“I genuinely did not think it would get the response it has gotten so far. It's something we made in our friend's backyard, and for people to like it is surreal,” said Al-Shathri.
American University of Sharjah
Founded in 1997, AUS is acclaimed throughout the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the Middle East for its academic excellence and multicultural campus environment. We are an independent, non-profit, coeducational institution of higher education formed on the American model, which integrates broad-based liberal arts education with professional education studies. At AUS, all classes and administrative functions are conducted in English.