The third edition of the Gulf Film Festival, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), has short-listed 21 films for the annual student competition in the shorts category.
This year’s student competition will award first, second, and third place winners in the documentary and short film categories with cash prizes up to AED 90,000. A special jury prize for a documentary or short film of AED 15,000 will also be awarded.
The Student Competition is one of three in-competition events at the Gulf Film Festival in addition to the Official Competition for professionals and a Script Competition for Emirati Short films. In all, prize money worth AED 485,000 is being awarded to the professional filmmakers and students.
Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Festival Director, said: “The Student Competition at the Gulf Film Festival offers a window of opportunity for young filmmakers to reach out to a wider audience and potentially pursue a rewarding film career. The short-listed films are indicative of the rich creative competencies of our youngsters. Their attention to details, the affinity for new technology and the narrative brilliance are encouraging signs that the film industry in the Gulf region is evolving dramatically.”
Student filmmakers in the UAE have submitted entries on a range of issues – about family, friendship and the challenges faced by the society at large. Among those are, Hamda Al Bastaki’s El Laileh (The Night), which depicts a contest to see who collects the most sweets on Hag Al Lela. The race for first place is between four children, including Mansoor, a young lonely boy.
The most commonly faced social issues and conflicts that exist in a society is portrayed in Nasser Jaber Al-Rahma’s And the Silence Remains. The traditional game of hide-and-seek is parodied on screen in Lahg by Khalid Al Abdulla while Mohammad Ahmed Fikree’s mini series Omar! “To School,” is the story of a boy who cannot seem to get to school in time due to the absence of his father.
The jealousy and hatred that exists within a society is creatively highlighted within a group of four friends in Shamma Abu Nawas and Hafsa Al Mutawa’s Shhh, while Mariam Alkhayat portrays the innocence of young love and the challenges it faces in society in her film Neighbours. The search for the illusion of the truth is battled by the reality of an illusion in Hamad Saghran’s Al Gubah (Midst of the Sea).
The cinematic creations of Omani students include Lamad by Al Motasim Al-Shaqsi which portrays the life of a farmer, his wait, and his journey to water the plants in his village. Niqab by Muzna Al Musafir narrates the story of a lady who finds thoughts of conflict and anger racing in her mind as she gets ready for a rendezvous.
In Leaking, Amjad Abdullah Al Hinai and Khamis Sulyem Ambo-Saidi explore a child who seeks to find solace from her daily family problems by playing outside, only to note that when she comes back to the house she is faced with the same problems. Al-Jahla by Sultan Al-Hussaini depicts the mythical wealthy life of a man who is unable to have a sip of water, while Maryam Mohammed Al-Gheilani’s A Rope Knot tells us the story of a woman who is unable to have children. Mashnaqah, by Abdullah Al Maqimi, illustrates a conflict of interest when a film director’s idea for a movie is declined by his producer.
Among the short-listed entries is an array of entries from Iraq including Eyas Jehad’s Nightmares, which narrates the story of an elementary school teacher who has a nightmare of hanging himself at the end of a school day. Falah Hasan and Mounaf Shaker use symbolism through colours to explain the social issue surrounding rigged elections in Democratic Colours, while the act of good deeds are repaid with bad deeds is questioned in Sarmad Abdul Hammed Alzoubidy’s Spellings.
Budding filmmakers from Saudi Arabia have submitted numerous films including Child’s Pain by Waleed Matari which narrates the events surrounding a child dealing with the disillusion of her family, when the only person close to her goes missing. The reaction of foreign passengers to a suitcase owned by an Arab man are recorded to portray the stereotypes that exist in the West in Mohammed Al Tamimi’s The Bag. A tribute to the late poet Nizar Qabbani, Yearning of a Poet, portrays Qabbani in the present and his nostalgia of the past in a short film by Tareq Aldakheel.
The story of an old woman who absorbs her misery and solitude by living in a fishbowl until things get shaken up is seen in Malak Quota’s Set in Solitude. A decision surrounding the traditional family expectations of an arranged marriage or a love marriage within the Western culture is a college student’s dilemma in Madhi Ali Ali’s Champs Elysees, Je T’aime (Champs Elysees, I Love You), a French Qatari production.
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