Winners to be declared on Wednesday

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Winners to be declared on Wednesday

The Gulf Film Festival has enlisted two renowned jury panels comprising filmmakers, authors and critics.

By (Deepa Narwani)

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Published: Wed 20 Apr 2011, 12:53 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 10:19 AM

The Gulf Film Festival has enlisted two renowned jury panels comprising filmmakers, authors and critics to select standout voices in local, regional and international short films, documentaries and feature films.

The festival which ends tomorrow features two key competitions: The Gulf Competition for films by Gulf filmmakers and students, or filmmakers of other nationalities with films that showcase the region; and the inaugural International Competition for Short Films open to films and filmmakers from around the world. Nearly half a million dirhams will be distributed as prize money to the winners in various categories. The winners will be announced today at the awards ceremony.

The Gulf Competition jury comprises veteran Egyptian filmmaker Magdy Ahmed Aly, Emirati poet and author Ahmed Rashed Thani and Iraqi filmmaker Kais Al Zubaidi.

The international short film competition jury is headed by Montserrat Guiu Valls, Managing Director of the Festival de Cine de Huesca, with Bahraini filmmaker Bassam Al Thawadi and Lebanese film critic Hauvick Habechian as members.

“GFF has given a chance to people in the region to prove themselves. It is an encouragement for the youth to explore their talents. There has been tremendous improvement in films from the GCC region, specially from Yemen and Saudi Arabia. We have seen over 35 hours of footage and the quality is surprisingly good,” said Kais Al Zubaidi.

Magdy Ahmad Ali, regarded as one of the pioneers of Egyptian cinema, said: “There has been great development in this region. The short films and documentaries were exceptional. But the feature films still have room for improvement. This kind of continuous support is going to change the face of Arab cinema very soon.”

GFF competitions present a compelling array of films that underscore the talent from the region and, with the first international shorts competition, the festival also showcases new voices and filmmaking trends from around the world.

“This festival provides a physical space and acts as an umbrella for upcoming filmmakers,” said Montserrat Guiu Valls from Spain.

“It gives the human experience of watching films in a crowd and being able to voice your opinion and exchange ideas.”

As part of the international jury, Valls saw documentaries, short stories and feature films.

“The quality of these films was very good and can be compared to other famous festivals. But the one similarity I found in all the films was that most of their topics spoke about identity —of people, place or society— and I am glad to see that.” Guiu Valls represents the 39-year-old Festival de Cine de Huesca, one of Spain’s premiere short film festivals. A specialist in film conservation and restoration, he had served on festival juries in Tehran, Madrid and Amman.

Bassam Al Thawadi, jury member and a Baharani filmmaker, said: “Film festivals in the region are actually pushing young filmmakers in the required direction.

By what we have seen, films in the region talk about their society which has been somewhat mysterious to people. This festival offers excellent support.”

He added that the point of having an international competition as a part of the festival is to make directors in the region aware so that in the future, films from the gulf and around the world will compete on the same level.

The analysis and recommendations of the jury members serves as a road map for these filmmakers so that their films can cut through all barriers and find global acceptance.

The Gulf Competition is for films from the Arabian Peninsula, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Yemen and Iraq. The Student Competition is open to works made or produced by students during their academic study, or as part of a college project.

Entries in the Gulf Competition were invited in three categories: Feature Films, Short Films, and Documentaries. Students compete in short films and documentaries only, while international films compete in short films only.

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