The second edition of the annual Gulf Film Festival has received 212 entries, festival director Masoud Amralla al-Ali has said.
Organised by the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, the festival will be held in Dubai next month.
The festival has succeeded in giving the much needed boost to Arab Cinema, and encourage the region’s cinematic talents, Al-Ali told Gulf Times.
“The first edition attracted 165 films, this year the number has reached 212,” he said, pointing out the increase in the popularity of the event.
Although the festival is mainly for short films made in the Gulf countries, the competition does not neglect non-Gulf participants.
He said many talented expatriates living and studying in the Gulf countries have the chance to take part in the competition as they were part of the Gulf society.
“They have their own category titled ‘In their eyes’, provided that the topics deal with Gulf issues,” he added.
Iraq and Yemen are to participate within the Gulf countries’ category.
Speaking about the short films’ culture in the Gulf, al-Ali noted that it was new, however the levels varied among countries. He said Qatar’s participation last year was limited to two films and this year to three.
The official pointed out that the UAE was leading in the short films industry among the Gulf States.
According to him, the reason was that governments in the region did not provide the right support for their national talents.
Although Qatar has been lagging behind in film production, al-Ali maintained that he had met many Qataris who have the knowledge and passion to work in this field. “They could not achieve much because of the lack of overall support”.
He observed that the UAE was trying to provide this kind of support to Gulf talents. “Its leadership in the short films industry is due to universities teaching this topic, and many other kinds of support. Also producers in the UAE have more freedom to deal with controversial issues.”
The GFF director observed that the films submitted for this year’s event dealt with controversial and sensitive issues in the Gulf.
A Kuwaiti short film, for instance, last year, exposed the issue of males trying to look like women.
He said that Saudi Arabia had been making rapid improvement in this industry.
Amralla dismissed the idea of expanding the GFF to include the whole Arab world, saying the time is not yet ripe for such a move. “If the competition included Lebanese films, they would win all the prizes.”
GFF will feature two main competitions: the Film and Script Competition.
The festival will be held in 2 categories: Official and Students.
The Official category comprises films from the Gulf region - UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Iraq and Yemen and is open to professional filmmakers of Gulf nationality.
The official competition is for feature and short films and documentaries.
The second category is for films produced or made by students of Gulf nationality during their studies or as part of a university project.
The script competition is open only to UAE nationals.
A certificate and a cash prize will be awarded to the director of each winning film.
GFF will also feature a range of international cinema, to provide an opportunity for local filmmakers to get themselves acquainted with experts in this field.
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