Eleven-year-old Dubai Abdullah Abulhoul was given a special recognition award for her debut animation film Galagolia.

An instant hit on the red carpet, the schoolgirl looked shy as she posed for photographers on her way to the awards ceremony.

But, as the youngest director in the festival, Dubai was in for a real treat as the proceedings began at Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai.

The 11-year-old film protégé from the UAE was recognised as the Youngest Filmmaker in the Festival with a special recognition award for her debut animation short, Galagolia.

It was hard to tell who was more excited, her father or mother, but Dubai took the announcement in her stride as she made her way onto the stage to accept the prize on Friday.

Dressed in grey, she pushed her long, dark hair from her face to reveal a big smile from ear-to-ear.


The audience erupted with applause and Dubai could barely contain her excitement. With hopes of receiving the Oscar for best director some day, Dubai certainly looked as if she could get used to the attention.

The movie, Galagolia, a short animation sketch for children, has turned the heads of renowned directors and animation experts from across the region.

The film was screened on Friday, the last day of the inaugural Festival. Dubai said she was amazed at the number of people who showed up to support her first cinema screening.

She said: "This has been the best experience of my life and I can't wait for next year. This just proves that age doesn't matter."

The animation for children section is a dedicated programme following a special animation workshop held at last year's Dubai International Film Festival, for young people aged 16 and under. Three projects, including Galagolia, were selected as winners to be screened in full as part of GFF.

‘I'm flying'

Masoud Amr Allah Al Ali says the Gulf Film Festival is a dream come true for him and can only get bigger and better

The home-grown initiative of the Gulf Film Festival will only get "bigger and better" according to festival director Masoud Amr Allah Al Ali.

Almost lost for words, Al Ali looks as high as a kite as he tries to explain his joy after the first film festival dedicated solely to talent from the Middle East.

He said: "The Dubai International Film Festival is a huge event which will always be a glitzy affair. But I am totally amazed at the energy in this room tonight. It is wonderful and I really feel as if I'm flying right now.

"I can't explain in words how happy I am and I know the festival has been a huge success. The feedback has been extraordinary. We have given local talent a platform which is so important to them. It's been a long time coming but it's better late than never."

The Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority (TECOM) funded the first Gulf Film Festival (GFF) - dedicated to the best in cinema from the Gulf countries only, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Iraq and Yemen along with a select few international films.

Run in association with Dubai Studio City, the six-day event saw more than 140 films from 25 countries screened at Mall of the Emirates.

As Artistic Director of Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), Al Ali was well qualified to present GFF. His passion for cinema and years of experience in the industry enable him to capably oversee the entire programming for DIFF, which comprises films from Arab and international filmmakers.

Of GFF he said: "I can definitely confirm the festival will take place again next year and hopefully we can start work straight away at making it bigger and better. You can only learn from these events and I admit we had a few teething problems but that is normal. The energy here today will ensure that next year's event will be one to remember."

Tremendous support

Volunteers from the UAE were falling over themselves to help at the festival, a move which Al Ali says shows just how much the country has to give to the industry.

He added: "The support has been tremendous and I would personally like to thank everyone from the ground up who has helped make this first GFF a major success. Everyone has pulled together and it's wonderful to see.

"This really is a dream come true for me. I have always hoped and prayed this day would come and I cannot believe we have made it happen.

"There is so much talent in the Middle East when it comes to the film industry so we shouldn't be surprised at the standard but we should certainly strive to make the viewing platform for this talent more accessible for all."

In his capacity as Artistic Director of the UAE Cultural Foundation, a national cultural institution funded by the federal government in Abu Dhabi, he founded the Emirates Film Competition, an annual cinema event held in Abu Dhabi to promote Arab films and encourage Arab filmmakers from the UAE and surrounding region.

Around 30 per cent of the films showcased at GFF were by UAE nationals with 70 per cent from the remaining five GCC nations, Yemen and Iraq.