As 2015 draws to a close and marks another year of growth and achievement for the UAE, Dubai International Film Festival, Image Nation and film directors across the Middle East came together to support Arab cinema.
With locally produced or directed movies generating widespread acclaim or eager anticipation — such as Majid Al Ansari’s Zinzana, animation film Bilal and Ali F. Mostafa’s From A to B and his latest, Worthy — filmmakers across the Arab region seem determined to give the world the first Arabic-language blockbuster.
Ben Ross, in charge of Narrative Content at Image Nation — an Abu Dhabi-based media production company — says that the region is teeming with talent. “We just want to tell good stories. That’s really what it is at the end of the day. There is a lot of untapped talent here… I think we’re making progress.”
The initiative encourages social media users to talk about their experience on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram every time they watch an Arabic movie, with the hashtag #SupportArabCinema.
At a press conference unveiling the teaser of his in-the-pipeline post-apocalyptic thriller Worthy, trailblazing Emirati director Mostafa spoke about the efforts he made to help audiences start linking high-quality production value with Arabic cinema.
“We have to put ourselves out there with a very, very professional team of people and we plan everything really, really well. We spent about two weeks planning with the creative team, in terms of the production designers, stunts coordinators, visual effects coordinators, in order for us to be able to achieve the high level of production values,” he said.
Mostafa also believes that the quality of production in the UAE is on par with international standards. The real problem remains achieving global visibility, and getting audiences to start associating movies that look international with characters that speak Arabic.
Image Nation’s Support Arab Cinema initiative seeks to raise the profile of local cinema all over the region, a sentiment shared by Zinzana director Al Ansari, who would rather audiences see his product as Arab, instead of just thinking of it as Emirati.
This year’s line-up at Diff includes more than 70 films from the Arab region that range across a multitude of genres and include shorts, animation and documentaries, along with feature-length films.