When it comes to film festivals, we hear mostly about the big screen while in DVD land it's the small screen. But isn't it about time we considered the tiny screen?

Billions of us own them, we nearly all store almost our entire favourite music collection on them and it's safe to say many
youngsters probably couldn't get through a day without one.

Meet the iPod.

Look at life

The films, premieres, red carpet presentations, competitions and panel discussions just weren't enough to launch the first
Middle East International Film Festival in style.

Determined to open the doors of film to as many people as possible, MEIFF organisers teamed up with Emiratesmac.com - a community mac user group - and the Abu Dhabi Women's College (ADWC) to present the Hayah Film Competition, a look at life and film through the iPod.

Magnus Nystedt, founder of Emiratesmac.com and IT tutor at the ADWC, spilt the beans on how it all began.

He said: "I saw an online competition to produce a film for the iPod while I was on the internet one day and thought what a
great idea it would be for the students I teach at the college.


"We approached the college and they were keen to get on board. It was only a few weeks later when we heard about the Middle East International Film Festival that we realised there was a much bigger scope for the challenge.

"The MEIFF team went for the idea straight away and the Hayah Film Competition - the only one of its kind to ever be launched at an international event - was born."

Developed in the spirit of innovation and new technology, the competition encourages creativity from filmmakers throughout the UAE and the Middle East.

Hayah, meaning "life" in Arabic was chosen as the name of the initiative with the theme for the competition fitting in nicely
as "life at the size of an iPod screen".

Magnus added: "The competition challenges filmmakers to capture an aspect of life in a short amount of time and in a reserved amount of screen space.

Open to anyone

"Filmmakers had to submit projects in an iPod compatible format, no longer than five minutes, across three separate
categories - student, amateur and professional - and it was open to anyone in the Middle East."

More than 100 entries were whittled down to just eight which are now available to view at www.hayahfilm.com Emirati student Luluwa Al Mehairbi, 26, is one of the lucky finalists.

Studying communications technology at the ADWC, Al Mehairbi says she is thrilled to be part of such a huge festival.
'Enjoyed it'

She said: "My film is called Tourist and it is about an Arab man who goes to London and when someone asks him a question he replies that he is a tourist but they misunderstand him and think he says terrorist.

"The film was so much fun to make, and I enjoyed every minute of it."

Kifah Saad, marketing co-ordinator for the college, said she couldn't believe how one competition could transform a
department. She said: "The media department always has a certain kind of buzz surrounding it but when this competition was announced everything went wild. Girls were bursting with excitement and it has been great to see the passion and enthusiasm.

Three girls from the ADWC have been short-listed."

ADWC student representative council president, Souad Mohammed, 19, added: "I am so proud of the three girls and I really hope one of them is the successful winner. We all have our fingers crossed."


The films will be viewed and judged on iPods, and shortlisted entries can be viewed and voted for by members of the public online for the People's Award.

The films are also available to be viewed on iPods in the hospitality suite at the festival.

The voting lines opened at 9am on Sunday and will close at midnight on Thursday, October 18. The winners will then be
announced at the end of the festival.


EmiratesMac is the only registered Apple User Group in the UAE. The User Group runs a website at www.emiratesmac.com with discussion forums, news, price and product information and more.

Members participate in monthly meetings in Dubai and write for EmiratesMac's newsletter "shuffle" which comes out monthly
with 5,000 copies, which are distributed throughout the UAE and beyond.


For more information on the Hayah Film Competition, including technical and artistic advice, visit www.hayahfilm.com.