The curtain came down on the first META Film Fest that successfully concluded today at the VOX Cinemas at Nakheel Mall in the Palm Jumeirah where more than 70 movies screened throughout the three days, creating a new benchmark in the entertainment industry of the Middle East and Africa.
The jam-packed festival hosted international film stars, celebrities and influencers at the Red Carpet, Gala Awards Ceremony, Afterparties in addition to premiers and screenings from 25 countries from the feature, documentary, and short film categories. Areas of Nakheel Mall and VOX Cinemas on The Palm, Dubai were transformed to host the festival with international celebrities, social media influencers and global media attention.
A number of feature, animation, documentary and short films from the UAE, Iran, India, France, UK, Jordan, Sweden, Korea, Egypt, Hong Kong as well as the African continent were premiered and screened – attended by thousands of film enthusiasts at the star-studded VOX Cinemas at Nakheel Mall which became the centre of attraction for the film industry.
Leila Masinaei, Festival Director and Managing Partner of Great Minds Event Management, organiser of the META Film Fest, said, the festival will go a long way to inspire local filmmakers, actors and crew to do more. “The inaugural edition of the META Film Fest will also help attract investment into the film and entertainment industry that will encourage new film production as the number of movie-goers are set to increase. A new film fund has also been floated to support the production of new films and we will see the results in the next few years, if not months.”
META Film Fest has attracted a number of international and regional celebrities including Frances O’Connor, Director of Emily; Cris Mejia, Nayla Al Khwaja, Emirati film director, Maria Bello, and Casey Shannon, Actors of Children of All, Shalila Samavati, actor of Tunnel, Pegah Ahangarani and Neslihan Yeldan of Juror, among many others.
An excited Frances O’Connor, Director of Emily, said, “It’s lovely to have Emily screened all the way out in Dubai. It’s a kind of a culture I am not very familiar with. This film helped me to interact with a new culture. I hope the audiences have an emotional experience during the movie Emily. I hope it helps them try to feel things and may be this movie will make the audiences read Wuthering Heights. That will be amazing.
“I came to Dubai 20 years ago. I had a stopover. It has changed so much from then. It’s like 20 times bigger and better. The people are so friendly and lovely here. It has been a very exciting film festival and I am happy to be part of the META Film Fest where Emily was premiered. The venue is great and the overall festival went very well, thanks to the organisers. This has definitely set the tone for a bigger film festival and we will be looking forward to the next edition.”
Famous UAE filmmaker Nayla Al Khaja said, “META Film Fest has definitely re-positioned the UAE in the global film industry map. It is going to become a very important global film festival where the film producers and directors would come to launch and premiere their movies and we look forward to more locally produced films screened at the META Film Fest.”
The festival has inspired local talents, such as the Dubai-based director-cum-celebrity, entrepreneur, producer, actress Zenofar Fathima, who is best known for her social awareness short films such as The Peril, The Peril 2 and Hope. META Film Fest inspired social media influencers such as Niki Shah, a marketing graduate who created her own fashion label at 18 and a top influencer at 30, to enter the film industry and take up a role either as a director, producer or a cast.
Some of the key highlights of the META Film Fest includes a series of exciting workshops by Academy Award nominated producer Leo Wong and award-winning short film producer Ivor Gracias on the nitty gritty of short film making techniques as well as how to market and promote independent movies – that are very interesting to the budding local and regional film industry professionals and students.
META Film Fest venue VOX Cinemas wore a festive mood with lots of film aficionados going from one screen to the next to see all they can watch within the three days! The Red Carpets hosted a large number of celebrities – many of whom came to the UAE for the first time – and watch the launch of a new era in the region’s entertainment industry.
Most of the featured movies at the META Film Fest, have already received multiple nominations at different international film festivals across the world, making the selection for UAE audiences more attractive. Among these Beloved, Borga, Chosen, District Terminal, El Arena, Emily, Golden Blood, Hard Shell Soft Shell and African Redemption: The Life and Legacy of Marcus Garvey have fascinated the crowd, many leaving lasting memories.
Among these, Iranian film District Terminal that has received three nominations at the Berlin International Film Festival, Best Film category nomination at the Festival du nouveau cinema and Sao Paulo International Film Festival, enthralled the viewers. French feature film Hard Shell, Soft Shell (Fragile) that has received four nominations including Best International Feature Fiction in Beirut International Women Film Festival and Best Feature Film at Buzz IFF, was very much liked by the audiences.
META Film Fest Awards saw a number of films and crew walk away with the first META Film Fest Awards at a gala ceremony at the Soho Gardens at Nakheel Mall attended by the crew, jury members, celebrities, media, sponsors, partners and distributors. META Film fest Awards were sponsored by Advanced Media.
META Film Fest Award Winners: Best Feature Film- Mukagali, Best Debut Feature Film- District Terminal, Best Debut Film Director- Bhaskhar Maurya, for Muthayya, Debut Film Special Jury Prize- Our River… Our Sky, Best Feature Film Director- Christophe Rolin, Talia’s Journey, Feature Film Special Jury Prize - Neighbours, Best Mention- The List of Those who Love Me, Best Short Fiction- Tala Vision, Short Film Special Mention- To Father, Best Documentary Film- In The Mind’s Garden, Short Film Special Jury Prize- Holy Bread, Short Films Special Mention- Beloved.