Short film from UAE makes waves worldwide

The film has received over a dozen awards in six countries and earned seven official screenings

by

Mazhar Farooqui

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Published: Thu 20 Jun 2024, 1:19 PM

Last updated: Thu 20 Jun 2024, 11:24 PM

A short film from the UAE is making waves worldwide, snagging over a dozen awards in six countries and earning seven official screenings, including three nods at the World Film Festival in Cannes.

Named Calling, the psychological thriller was filmed in just 12 hours.


According to UAE actor and filmmaker Raaj Rao, who drew inspiration from his own life experiences for the story, Calling paints a vivid picture of the inner struggles we all face. He explained, "Every human experience is a story waiting to be told. I chose to blend my own journey into a raw, immersive narrative, hoping it speaks to universal struggles and triumphs, reassuring audiences they're not alone."

Despite tight time constraints and a demanding 26-scene list, Rao leveraged these challenges to enhance the actors' performances. Through the use of sound, colour, and monochromatic themes, the film delves deep into the character's subconscious journey.


The film stars UAE-based Ukrainian actor Natalia Melnyk who has earned her four Best Actress Awards across various countries for her role. The plot revolves around Natalia, a fashion designer grappling with fear and self-doubt as she strives to finish her masterpiece. Rao said his choice to depict his inner struggles cinematically resulted in a deeply personal and cathartic film.

Calling kicked off its international festival journey in mid-April, racking up accolades such as Best Director, Best International Short Film, Best Actress, Best Editor & Sound Design and Best Trailer. Lauded at events like the Sweden Movie Awards and Cannes, the film has garnered praise for its portrayal of universal mental health challenges.

As Calling continues its festival circuit, Rao sees it as a testament to the storytelling's power, resonating with audiences worldwide. "With three nominations at Cannes and screenings at top festivals, it further cements the UAE's position in the global film scene, showcasing its cinematic prowess," he said.

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