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Emirati teen actor wins Cannes film award

Ahmad Al Dahouri's 'The Turtle' was produced for Expo 2012 Korea

Image Credit: WAM
Ahmad Al Dahouri
Gulf News

Dubai: Emirati actor Ahmad Al Dahouri, 14, has received an award for his role in UAE environmental film, The Turtle, produced in light of the UAE’s decision to ban plastic bags by 2013.

“The turtle’s favourite food to eat is the jelly fish, so when turtles see plastic bags they mistake them for jelly fish and so devour them. This causes the turtle to float and ultimately die,” said Ras Al Khaimah schoolboy Al Dahouri about the film.

The film, which was inspired by the Ministry of Environment and Water’s decision to move away from non-biodegradable plastic bags, was made for the UAE pavilion at Expo 2012 Yeosu, Korea, where it received an enthusiastic reception and a silver medal.

To learn more about Al Dahouri, Gulf News spoke to the young actor about his experience in acting and receiving the Gold Dolphin award at the Cannes Corporate and TV festival.

“I got into acting by coincidence; it all started in 2009 when a group of directors came to Ras Al Khaimah to shoot a film for Expo Shanghai 2010. I was accompanying my father who was coordinating with the shooting team when the team manager started talking to me; she was impressed with how good my English was so she decided to star me in the movie,” said Al Dahouri.

“It was my first acting experience ever where it was just me talking in front of the camera holding a camera and talking about famous sailor Ahmad Ibn Majid without any prior experience in acting. At first I was really shy because it was my first time in front of the camera, however, I eventually overcame my shyness,” he said.

“At the beginning I did not even know that I would be acting, I was asked by the same production team to attend what I later found was an audition against three other boys. During the audition they gave me a turtle and asked me to act out how I felt if it dies, they also tested my swimming as I was required to swim in one of the shots” said Al Dahouri.

“I was extremely happy and proud to get the role and shooting the movie was a great experience as I got to learn about the dangers of extinction these turtles are facing from plastic bag pollution and the importance of preserving these turtles and the environment in general.”

Al Dahouri recalled how proud he was for receiving an award for a movie that tackles an important environmental issue adding that what made it even better is representing his country in a positive manner.

“I was proud of myself for acting for an important cause and representing my country in a positive light. Also attending the ceremony in Cannes and not only being amongst movie stars who have been acting all their life but also winning without having any acting training made me even more proud.”

The young actor also spoke about the reaction of his family and schoolmates to his win: “No one from school knew that I was acting, so when I came back from Cannes and they found out that I acted in a film and won an award they were pleasantly shocked and proud.”

Al Dahouri also in the leading role of Ali’s Film which was produced as part of the Expo 2012 Dubai bid and hopes that Dubai will actually win the bid and so host the Expo 2020.

In the future Al Dahouri plans on pursuing an acting career where he hopes to act in movies that raise the awareness about the environment as whole. “I want to make films that help the planet and fight pollution. I also want to continue on representing the UAE and making my people proud,” he said.