Masterpieces of cinema in ‘Al Marmoom: Film in the Desert’ festival

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  • Maktoum bin Marwan Al Maktoum: The festival gives audiences the opportunity to learn about the details of the cinematic scene.
  • Shamma Almheiri: The activities are designed to meet the needs of filmmakers in the UAE and the region.
  • 23 talks and workshops presented by industry experts to develop the skills of participants

Dubai, UAE: Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) is opening horizons and new creative spaces to local and regional filmmakers through the ‘Al Marmoom: Film in the Desert’ festival opening on Friday, 9 December in the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve. The festival, through which Dubai Culture is supporting the ‘World’s Coolest Winter’ initiative, represents an innovative cinematic platform to enable filmmakers to present their different stories within the framework of Dubai Culture’s commitment to promoting the local cinematic scene and supporting and nurturing creative talents, in line with the Authority’s vision to cement Dubai’s position as a global centre for culture, an incubator for creativity, and a thriving hub for talent.

The second edition of the festival, taking place until 11 December under the theme ‘Stories at One with Nature,’ will present a variety of films, interactive workshops, talks, art installations, photography exhibitions and live performances to support emerging filmmakers in Dubai and strengthen the position of Al Marmoom desert as a cultural touristic destination and a natural reserve rich in elements of local heritage and culture. This affirms Dubai Culture’s efforts aimed at developing an integrated creative system capable of attracting filmmakers and raising awareness among all community members about the role of cinema in developing their cultural experiences.

Instilling the passion

Shaikh Maktoum Marwan Al Maktoum, project manager of Al Marmoom: Film in the Desert Festival and Senior Officer in the Projects & Events Department at Dubai Culture, said: “Al Marmoom: Film in the Desert festival provides the audience with the opportunity to learn about the local and regional film scene and its development, in addition to the role this industry plays in the development of Dubai’s creative economy.” He stressed the importance of instilling a passion for cinema in new generations, directing the filmmakers’ view of the various stories of society and presenting them in various artistic forms.

Shamma Yahya Almheiri, Project Manager of Al Marmoom: Film in the Desert Festival and Senior Officer of the Arts & Literature Sector’s CEO’s office at Dubai Culture, affirmed that all the festival’s activities were designed in a professional manner to meet the needs of filmmakers in the UAE and the region, saying: “The festival includes many activities through which we seek to develop the skills of filmmakers, empower them and enhance their presence on the local scene, which meets the aspirations of Dubai Culture seeking to cement Dubai’s position as a global hub for the film industry.”

Screenings, talks and workshops

Under the Marmoom sky, the festival will screen 27 films by filmmakers from the UAE and the MENA region that shed light on many societal and environmental issues. The films include ‘Honey Rain and Dust’ by Emirati Filmmaker Nujoom Alghanem; an Emirati feature film by Emirati filmmaker Saeed Rashed; and a short documentary being screened for the first time by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre about the launch of ‘Explorer Rashid’, and many more films. Director and poet Nujoom Al Ghanem; Toni El Massih, Managing Director of VOX Cinemas; director and producer Omar Butti; director and producer Nahla Al-Fahad; and Creative Director of Expo 2020 Dubai Amna Belhoul; are tasked with evaluating the films participating in the Al Marmoom Short Film Competition accompanying the festival, whereby the films could be one of three categories: live action, animation, or a documentary.

The festival will also host 23 specialised talks and workshops presented by a group of experts in the film industry, including Afnan Alqasimi, a narrative screenwriter and the creator behind the hit Saudi drama; Boxing Girls, who will present the workshop ‘How to write a script that sells’; Dubai-based Sudanese producer Amal Elgadi who will present a workshop entitled ‘Film Language,’ in which she sheds light on the art of storytelling in film through the subtle details like the five elements of film language, framing choices and their effect on storytelling (Hitchcock’s Rule), method acting, and colour themes and setting spaces; Slovenian cinematographer Beno Saradzic who will take audience on a tour of time-lapse cinematography, delving into the mysteries and intricacies of this field; and Lina Younes, who will present a workshop entitled ‘Introduction to Production Design & Art Direction,’ in addition to several other talks and workshops, all of which require prior registration to attend.

The history of cinema

The festival presents a group of free art exhibitions, including the ‘History of Cinema’ exhibition by the artist Ammar Al Attar. The exhibition takes the visitors on a nostalgic journey narrating the history of the cinema in the UAE and the region, from its beginning until the present day. Emirati photographer Ali Khalifa Bin Thalith, Secretary General of the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award (HIPA), is presenting his photographic exhibition documenting wildlife in Al Marmoom Desert, while Emirati artist Fatma Al Ali presents her mural about filmmaking. The public will also have the opportunity to view the public art installation ‘Moving with the Dunes’ created by the artist Ayesha Hadhir, a public art installation by Shamma Al Mazrouei and a sadu-inspired graphic design by Sarah Alkhayyal.

The festival will also celebrate Emirati history, heritage and its most prominent components and elements while displaying a group of traditional Emirati crafts. This comes out of Dubai Culture’s keenness to invest in future generations by stimulating innovation and creativity, introducing and preserving the richness of Emirati heritage, and enhancing its presence in the minds and souls of children.

Dubai Culture was keen to design the festival’s activities to ensure accessibility for people of determination in order to allow them the opportunity to enjoy the aesthetics of cinema, art installations and exhibitions accompanying the festival, which is held in partnership with many public and private entities in Dubai, namely: Dubai Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai Municipality, Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Department of Economy and Tourism, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, Ministry of Education, Emirates Airline, Careem, Meraas, The American University in Dubai, ‘Proudly from Dubai,’ an initiative of Brand Dubai, Trust Your Water, VOX Cinemas, Weyyak, Zayed University, Nikon, Raindance, Project You, New Media Academy, GTV, and Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre.