Filmmakers in Dubai call for a platform to showcase their work

Fimmakers in the country, whether they are nationals or expatriates, need a platform, the event’s curator believes. (Shutterstock)
Updated 31 October 2018
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Filmmakers in Dubai call for a platform to showcase their work

DUBAI: Filmmakers in the UAE need a platform to showcase their work, Sucheta Phule, the curator of Friday’s Desert Flower International Film Festival, told Arab News.

Phule said that filmmakers in the country, whether they are nationals or expatriates, need a platform, as well as support from authorities and the private sector.

“It is sad that the city with such beautiful diversity has no institution or platform that can take their work forward and mentor them,” Phule said.

The festival is an initiative by Phule, supported by Dubai-based performing arts space The Junction which provides the facilities for film screenings. A total of five short films, made by both local and expatriate filmmakers, were showcased at the festival.

“We are producing brilliant talent and creative work by both local and (expatriate) filmmakers. But there is no support at all. The filmmaker has to invest in the film by him/herself and the struggle goes on,” said Indian-origin Phule, who is also a filmmaker. One of her films, “Nirrutar,” was also screened at the festival.

The curator believes there is a vacuum after the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) was made into a biennial event. But, according to her, DIFF was not supporting local talent in the way she believes it should have.

“DIFF preferred films with only one kind of filmmaker. It was not open for all kinds of local filmmakers. But, all said and done, even DIFF is out. We are without any festival these days,” she said.

Manahel Mahmood, an Emirati filmmaker whose film “Love Him as I Do” was one of the popular films at the festival, also lamented the apparent lack of a platform for UAE-based filmmakers.

“Whatever we do, we do it by ourselves. Even for funding, it is very difficult to find full support for short films,” said Mahmood, whose film about the struggle of a mother with an autistic child cost her about $5,445 to complete.

“The UAE has a great treasure of diverse filmmaking talent. We can easily build a very successful local film industry, provided we get full support from the authorities as well as from the private sector.”

Rashmi Kotriwala, the co-founder of The Junction, agreed.

“There are very few platforms or events that focus on local films. If at all, they are sporadic. We are, therefore, trying to give a consistent push.”


‘Broken Dinners, Postponed Kisses’ tells heart-wrenching story of Syria’s lost artists

Updated 15 November 2018
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‘Broken Dinners, Postponed Kisses’ tells heart-wrenching story of Syria’s lost artists

  • The 93-minute film follows six Syrian artists as they narrate their stories of displacement

BEIRUT: Filmmaker Nigol Bezjian premiered his latest movie “Broken Dinners, Postponed Kisses” with an intimate screening in Beirut on Wednesday night.
The 93-minute film — which features dialogue in Arabic, Armenian, German and English with English-language subtitles — follows six Syrian artists as they narrate their stories of displacement.
Bezjian, an Armenian born in Aleppo, Syria, spoke to Arab News about the experience of making the powerful film and said it was inspired by one of his previous works, “Thank You, Ladies and Gentlemen.”
“The movie is about Syrian refugees in the camps of Lebanon and it stayed with me,” he said about his previous film. “But I wanted to make a film about people in our region who had to depart their homeland, from the time of the end of World War I until today.”
That sparked the idea for his latest venture.
Bezjian chose six characters and honed in on their past experiences in what turned out to be an insightful peek through the keyhole into the lives of those who have been affected by the strife in Syria.
“The characters in the film are artists who work in different disciplines of art,” he explained.

“The film is something of a documentary, as the characters’ stories are all real, yet the concept that ties them all together was created by me,” the filmmaker continued.
Making an appearance are filmmaker Vartan Meguerditchian, actor Ayham Majid Agha, musician Abo Gabi, dancer Yara Al-Hasbani, painter Diala Brisly and photographer Ammar Abd Rabbo.
The film explores the inner feelings and reflections of people who had to leave their homes and be transported to a new environment, facing many challenges along the way.
Despite the sometimes heart-wrenching subject matter, Bezjian noted that the main challenges he faced while producing the film were budget and timeframe.
“The movie took two-and-a-half years (to make), so the main challenge was not to give up and keep the same spirit and momentum throughout this time,” he said.

At the screening, an eager crowd listened as the filmmaker gave his introductory speech.

“There are a lot of faces I don’t recognize, and that’s a good thing,” Nigol said. 

The movie is filled with tense moments, artistic shots and captivating characters, that succeeded to show the reality of artists’ lives in environments marked by conflict and refuge.