The showcasing of the Emirati short film Sabeel at the opening of the Panorama Des Cinemas du Maghreb et du Moyen Orient (Panorama of Cinema from the Maghreb and Middle East) in Paris last week has been hailed as proof of Dubai’s growing reputation for quality filmmaking. The Paris festival’s showing of the film marked its latest collaboration with the Dubai International Film Festival.
Though a cornerstone of the Dubai film industry, the festival’s just the tip of the iceberg as the city offers much more for filmmakers and cinephiles alike. Here are a few examples of Dubai’s special celluloid appeal:
The Dubai Film Festival
First held in 2004, the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) is the leading film festival in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The festival aims to be the ‘premier showcase event for Arab cinema’ and to help the development and growth of the regional film industry.
Festival organisers have even worked beyond their home in Dubai, most recently bringing Arab cinema to French audiences. DIFF joined forces with the Panorama Festival to bring in films from the Arabian Gulf and other countries such as Algeria, Egypt and Morocco.
“This is one of many relationships begun during DIFF that bear fruit year-round and around the world, and we are honoured to once again be the centre of discovery of Arab film for global institutions,” the DIFF’s Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali said to the Arabian Gazette.
The ninth edition of the festival will be held this year from 9 to 16 December. The location for the festival will be the Madinat Jumeirah resort, which also sponsors of event along with Emirates Airlines.
The Dubai government also plans to offer financial incentives to filmmakers in order to help the local industry continue to grow. An incentive programme will be run by the newly-instigated Dubai Film and TV Commission, according to The National. It is not yet known what subsidy rate will be available, but it will need to be competitive as nearby Abu Dhabi, which already offers a 30 per cent rate.
The Emirates film industry gained a big boost when Hollywood packed Tom Cruise and Co on Dubai flights to film Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. The film, starring Cruise, featured several scenes filmed in Dubai. The burgeoning film industry now hopes to tempt more big productions for filming, as well as promoting more works from local and regional filmmakers.
Sabeel is a sweet and poignant short film currently being hailed as a superb example of the Dubai film industry. Set in the mountains of the UAE, the film tells the story of two small boys who live with their sick, elderly grandmother. In order to make enough money to buy medicine for her, they grow vegetables and sell them on the road. The film follows the two boys as they go about their lives.
Sabeel has been very successful already, debuting at the Locarno Film Festival, winning the Best Short Film prize at the New York Eurasian Festival and taking a script prize at the 2010 Gulf Film Festival.