The Emirati film scene is robust and has grown exponentially over the last decade. Movies produced here tell stories inspired by both the culture of Emiratis and the cultures of people that live in the country.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Emirati writer and director Hassiba Freiha, described the UAE film industry as a car that was built with the best parts, and now many people are ready and excited to drive it. “In the GCC, the UAE is definitely one of the leaders in the filmmaking industry. Several Hollywood movies are being shot here, and many Emiratis are exposed to the highest level of production standards. There’s so much talent,” she said.
Today, on December 1, 'Farah', a feature film co-directed by Hassiba and her husband, Kenton Oxley, will be released in UAE cinemas. The movie is a psychological thriller which is set in Lebanon and explores themes such as mental health and the role of big pharma – themes that are far too familiar today than when the movie was being filmed in 2019 – right before the pandemic, according to Hassiba. Since its world premiere at the Beirut International Women Film Festival earlier this year, Farah has received a range of international accolades
Speaking about Emirati cinema, Hassiba, who has previously worked with Twofour54 said that she feels that movies produced here tell stories of different cultures coming together but through the output of one person who is the Emirati filmmaker. “We have so many different cultures, that are merging and interacting together. They didn’t live here for centuries – they are in fact new societies that are merging in this one cosmopolitan city,” she said.
To young creatives who want to get into the industry, but feel insecure or judged, Hassiba’s advice is to take baby steps and soon people around and society will notice. “This industry has become so legitimate that their parents will support them,” she said.
She added that when the young creatives are able to break the mould, they will then have the understanding to support their own children. “To support the diversity of the industries in this country is important and there will be a ripple effect. You must trust and have confidence in yourself first. Take baby steps and you’ll get there,” she said.
Some examples of Emirati movies:
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