Portrait of my family-1611556599270
Portarit of my Family is one of the Israeli films screening in the UAE on January 28 Image Credit: Supplied

The UAE is going to host a special showcase to screen Emirati and Israeli short films as part of the greater strengthening of relations between the two nations.

To be held at Abu Dhabi’s Al Qattara Cinema, the event will bring together filmmakers from the UAE and Israel in celebration of shared experiences.

Organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), in collaboration with Image Nation and Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film School (JSFS), the film festival will be a virtual screening event on January 28 and will display four Emirati and four Israeli short films.

The event will provide a virtual cinematic platform that will celebrate creators by bringing them closer to new audiences and draw attention to cultural relations between the two communities and arts sectors.

According to a release, the event is a ‘first and significant milestone in the agreement between Abu Dhabi Film Commission, the Israel Film Fund (IFF), and JSFS to promote goodwill, tolerance, and bilateral cooperation in the fields of film and television as part of a series of mutually beneficial strategic initiatives’.

The organisers further state that the event will pave the way for future such programmes that will serve to strengthen the professional and cultural ties between the two countries.

Ostara is one of the Emirati films screening at the event. Image Credit: twofour54

“Cultural exchange, artistic cooperation and creative dialogue are at the heart of our cultural agenda at DCT Abu Dhabi and they constitute an intrinsic approach to our cultural initiatives,” said Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi in a statement.

“Our aim is to support institutions and initiatives that celebrate cultural expressions from all over the world. Al Qattara Cinema is a landmark event in Abu Dhabi’s cultural calendar and this year will introduce a broad audience to UAE and Israeli short films. We are looking forward to this event as the first collaboration of its kind, aiming to showcase the two nations’ creative talents and strengthen Emirati-Israeli cultural relations,” he added.

This year’s event will see various film styles screened virtually, including narrative, documentary, and animation from the two countries’ artists.

The selected Emirati shorts include ‘Ostora’ by Faisal Al Shiryani, ‘Feeding 500’ by Rafed Al Harethi, ‘Jumaa & Hakim’ by Alawi Shareef, and ‘Omnia’ by Amna Al Nowais.

The Israeli films will include ‘Portrait of my Family’ by Omri Dekel-Kadosh, ‘Blessed’ by Prague Benbenisty, ‘Swing’ by Shadi Habib Allah, and ‘If you Only Knew’ by Einat Gaulan. All entries will contain subtitles.

The event will be screened in a pre-recorded video format hosted on the official Abu Dhabi Culture YouTube Channel.

Al Qattara Cinema 3-1611556595836
Al Qattara Cinema Image Credit: Supplied

“I am delighted for this first joint event for our two countries. This historic event is an important bridge for creating a new path, forging cultural ties, and opening opportunities and a variety of professional initiatives between Israeli and Emirati filmmakers,” said Dana Blankstein Cohen, Director of JSFS, in a statement.

“The films selected for this programme by Emirati film professionals allow a peek into current and relevant filmmaking from talented graduates of our school. This is the beginning of a cultural, social and professional dialogue that we will build together with the belief in the creative tools of art as the inspiration for connecting peoples and cultures.”

Lisa Shiloach Uzrad, Director of the Israel Film Fund added: “I am truly certain that this meeting between Emirati and Israeli filmmakers will lead to real bonds, creating opportunities for both film industries, while connecting people and cultures. This is just the first of many initiatives that we are working on as we expand our cooperation for further joint projects.”

Al Qattara Cinema is a programme for showing films produced by UAE, Arab, and international filmmakers to the city’s audiences and those interested in learning about cinema.