Movie making might seem glamourous but it is a painstaking labour of love that takes a lot of commitment and cash, especially for first-timers.
The Dubai International Film Festival, which gets underway on December 9, is not only bringing the best of the silver screen to the city but also playing a vital role in supporting directors in the Gulf region. The IWC Filmmaker award, now in its fourth year, offers a Dhs367,000 cash prize to help kick-start a feature length fiction film project by Gulf talent. Each year, three of the best are shortlisted for the award and invited to the Dubai Film Market to present their projects, with the winner announced during the festival. Waleed Al Shehhi, who triumphed in 2013, saw his film Dolphins, which was shot in Fujairah, premiere at last year’s DIFF and this year’s trio of hopeful directors have their eyes on a similar opportunity.
Khalifa Al Muraikhi from Qatar
Nominated for Sahaab:
“I feel very lucky to be among the three nominees. In the Arab world, we like good stories – Egypt and Morocco have a history of filmmaking but in the Gulf region it’s rare to find films that really provoke the audience. Sahaab is a story about three men who lose their falcon in the desert and spend days in the cold, lost and have to search each other’s hearts as well as find a way home.”
Shahad Ameen from Saudi Arabia
Nominated for Scales:
“I’ve been working on this script for almost two-and-a-half years now, and it’s a film that I really want to see come to life whether I win or not. The film will be a magical reality film and the first time ever that a 13-year-old girl, a Khaleeji girl, becomes the hero. We don’t have movie theatres in Saudi, but that’s secondary. It starts with the stories, and the most important thing as a filmmaker is to make your film.”
Layla Kaylif from the UAE
Nominated for The Letter Writer: “I come from a mixed background so my views may be outside of the norms of traditional Emirati society. So it feels good that the IWC judges can accept a story about a young Emirati boy who marries an English woman, which is a little bit of my own family’s story. I started thinking about this idea a year ago and I hope that this competition will open doors for me.”