Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lights, camera and action, three words anyone in the film industry will be familiar with and I was no different. 

Being one of the few student journalists on the red carpet at the sixth edition of Abu Dhabi Film Festival, this was my chance for great exposure as a future media professional and an excellent learning platform to put all the things I learnt over the year into practice.  

Established in 2007, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF) is a ten day program (October 11th - October 20th 2012) which aims to showcase the crème of Arab and international cinema allowing them to promote and engage audiences with the Arab culture.

Richard Gere signing autographs at the festival
Source: ADFF | Click here to view more photographs

A total of 81 feature length films and 84 short films representing 48 countries were screened at the festival which was divided into two prominent locations: Emirates Palace and Marina Mall. ADFF gives the audience a true chance to experience the hard work and talent put in by every film-maker, be it local, regional or international.

Opening with a star-studded evening, the festival welcomed screen legend Richard Gere, the star of the opening night thriller Arbitrage who was joined by co-star Nate Parker, one of Hollywood’s rising stars, along with the films’ director Nicholas Jarecki, and producers Mohammed Al Turki, Brian Young and Kevin Turen.

The list does not end there, reported leading lights of Arab cinema who are invited to  join the audience for the screening, include Menna Shalabi, Bassem Samra, Elham Shahin, Carmen Lebbos, Jamal Soliman, Bassel Khayat and Hatem Ali. 

And not to mention Indian cinema icon Mammootty and his wife who also made a special visit just for the festival's opening.

Between the festival screenings, fun filled activities such as workshops for families and individuals were common.  Whether it’s watching or enjoying the films or workshops everyone has a reason to celebrate at the festival.

Ali Al Jabri, the first Emirati to hold the prestigious post of Festival Director, said he was proud to see the quality and diversity of work emerging from the local industry and urged others to follow their lead.

 "It’s very exciting to see Emiratis telling their stories through film and to see such interesting work come out of a relatively small community. I hope other Emiratis will be as proud as I am. This should act as an inspiration to others considering film making as a career,”

 “The competition is entering a new era, with new leadership from Saleh Karama and our new partner, Dolphin Energy, and we are starting that era with women film-makers comprising more than 50% of participants in the competition after receiving a record number of submissions. It’s an exciting period for Emirati film-makers given that the government is increasing support of the industry.” said Al Jabri.

Angus Finney, leading industry experts from UK
Photo courtesy by ADFF
Besides, films and documentaries screened at the festival, special industry workshops are being held. One in particular that drew my attention was conducted by Angus Finney on October 13, 2012. Finney is one of the leading industry experts from UK when it comes to different strategies undertaken by film-makers  He enlightened and guided film-makers of different backgrounds on how to take their current and future projects from a production stage to a marketable level.

According to Angus Finney, the great thing about the Cannes Festival is the publicity; the exposure it provides for all the film makers which is phenomenal. Festivals such as these, gives them the edge as film-makers and media industrialists for they need to adopt various new strategies in this era of digital revolution.

By Thomson George

The writer is a second year undergraduate student pursuing BA Media and Communications in Manipal University, Dubai.