Saturday, December 19, 2009

As part of the DIFF’s ongoing commitment to exposing the younger generation to potential careers within the film industry, DIFF hosted an open day for school and university students.

Local and regional universities that offer film and other media-related programmes were invited to discuss their courses and showcase some of the work that students have created. The Industry Office organized panel discussions on the day, where international filmmakers and producers described how they got into the industry, their professional experiences and different perspectives.

This year, the Student’s Day was held on the 15th of December. The morning kicked off with a panel discussion on the challenges faced by first timers in the industry.

The panel comprised of three debutante directors - Mr. Sehat from Australia, Mr. Oliver Hermanus from South Africa and Mr. Ali Mostafa from U.A.E and their films were part of those screened at the Dubai International Film Festival.

They passed on their expertise to the future generation of students who inspire to be directors. For instance, ‘See the Boys’, the film directed by Mr.Sehat took eight years in the making and he said that he felt that the screenplay of any film is like gold and a good screenplay is the fastest way to the film industry.

For Mr. Oliver Hermanus, his film ‘Shirley Adams’ is all about social realism and he said that he tried to shoot his films mostly in one take, in order to complete it faster.

Mr. Ali Mostafa’s film, ‘City of Life’ was the most exciting pick as it was a film based in Dubai. The film revolves around 3 characters, an Emirati, an Indian and a Romanian, showing the multi cultural society that is Dubai.

Other issues discussed in the panel ranged from finance, budgets, new technologies and censorship issues in U.A.E.

Next up, was the screening of the film ‘Amreeka’ at the First Group Theatre in Souk Madinat Jumeira. It is a 2009 drama film written and directed by Cherien Dabis. Amreeka chronicles the adventures of Muna, a single mother who leaves the West Bank with Fadi, her teenage son, with dreams of an exciting future in the promised state of Illinois. In America, as her son navigates high school hallways the way he used to move through military checkpoints while the determined Muna scrambles together a new life cooking up hamburgers at the local White Castle.

Told with heartfelt humour by writer-director Cherien Dabis in her feature film debut, Amreeka is a universal journey into the lives of a family of immigrants and first-generation teenagers caught between their heritage and the new world in which they now live and the bittersweet search for a place to call home.

The screening was followed up with a discussion with the director and the actors of the film. Cherien Dabis, through the film, wanted to fight the clichés and stereotypes that surround the Arab Diaspora.

The final session was a conversation with Mr. Gerard Butler. He was in Dubai to receive the award for the International Star of the Year, which he received from Variety Magazine at the film festival.

Butler spoke about what the award meant for him. A very down-to-earth star known for his honesty, he constantly joked as the audience hurled questions at him, ranging from whether he had any difficulty in ridding himself of his thick Scottish accent to if he was or had been dating co-star Jennifer Aniston. He described Dubai as “Flashy, fascinating, warm and interesting”.

The whole day was filled with excitement, especially the last session where people where standing in a huge line just to get a single glimpse of Mr. Butler.

The Student Day at DIFF was the place for young and would-be filmmakers as well as film professionals to be inspired by internationally renowned directors, producers and actors invited to DIFF and to participate in classes, case studies and panel sessions.

It was a place to develop business know-how, creative skills and techniques and extend regional and international networks.

By Deepa Narwani