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Zen Film Productions’ Ayah bags over 20 accolades, including best film and best cinematography, both at international and regional film festivals


Anam Khan

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Published: Sat 25 Feb 2023, 9:00 AM

The concept of faith in an omniscient higher power has proven time and time again to transcend the boundaries of language, culture, and even religion. Ayah, a meta-spiritual short film, which delves into the power of prayer in times of hardship using the three art forms of film, music and theatre, in association with Firdaus Studio by A R Rahman, has now bagged over 20 awards worldwide during its festival run. The award-winning film, which is directed and conceived by activist, filmmaker and producer, Zenofar Fathima, and written and directed by Afraah Farhana, with music composed by singer and composer Hiral Viradia, has managed to bag accolades in categories such as best short film, best musical film, best actress, best director, and best screenplay, among others.

To add to the list of accolades, Ayah also received awards for best cinematography, as well as a best supporting actor at the seventh edition of the prestigious Emirates Short Film Festival (ESFF) on February 18. The independent film festival, which is in partnership with Emirates Airlines and helmed by filmmaker and Emirates veteran Ron Awa, had recognised Ayah as ‘one of the best films to ever be received by ESFF’.

“Ayah is one of the best films we’ve received so far, with key scenes focusing on Dua (Arabic term for prayer) and why it is so important, especially this coming Ramadan,” said Awa. The film was widely praised for its portrayal of how broken families facing challenging times can utilise prayer to not only bring themselves closer as a family but also closer to God.

Filmmakers Fathima and Farhana were also awarded the emerging filmmaker award, which aims to acknowledge up-and-coming filmmakers from around the world. “I am extremely pleased to have bagged awards across an array of categories in just a matter of six months, and am also very pleased to have attended ESFF and received the award in person,” said Fathima. “It’s all onwards and upwards from here, and these wins inspire me to achieve more and conceive even better films. I would like to thank team Ayah for making this project an overnight success.” Ayah also received the best cinematography award — the first camera and lighting-related award. “We are especially overjoyed to have been awarded best cinematography out of more than three hundred films worldwide, given that the unconventional theatre-based composition required us as the directors to regularly design and manage the staging, blocking, lighting sequences and the general shot list of the film. A big thank you to our crew and actors who contributed towards the aesthetic of the production,” said Farhana.

In the wake of Ayah’s global success, Fathima now prepares to venture into unknown territory, stepping away from her comfort zone genre of social awareness.

“I am now gearing up for two exciting projects of different scales after Ayah. The first is an OTT comedy series titled South Meets North, while the second is an escape room psychological thriller titled as Specter: No Way Out,” Fathima announced to the media at the seventh edition of ESFF. “While South Meets North is a comedic take on the tug of war that exists between North Indians and South Indians; Specter: No Way Out will see a group of individuals who come face-to-face with death itself when they visit an escape room for an unconventional audition for a horror movie,” she added.

After completing its festival run, Ayah will be available to watch for the public on a public platform that will be announced soon.

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