From top left clockwise:Abdullah Al Hora, Ahmad Al Naqbi, Marwan Al Hammadi and Hana Al Zarooni Image Credit: Oliver Clarke/ Gulf News

There's a new generation of Emirati filmmaking talent and they plan on making an impact.

The fourth edition of the Gulf Film Festival features an impressive roster of Emirati films from a bunch of youngsters with a passion for film that is impossible to stop.

A total of 45 films are from the UAE, and with 22 competing in the Gulf Competition, 13 in the Student Competition and an additional 10 screened as part of the out-of-competition segments, they accentuate a new wave of cinematic talent in the UAE.

Tabloid! met these creative personalities in person.

Hana, 33, made a brave decision at 30 to leave her career as a horticulturist behind and break into the world of film.

The director of Ghafet Osha, which features in the Official Competition Short category, believes her life experience will help her along the way.

"At 21, I didn't have a clue. Just three years ago I sat back and wondered what it was that really made me happy. I realised nobody watched me carry a camera around as a child and thought to encourage me. I just fell into things without much thought. But now I know this is my passion. I am using my previous knowledge and experience to help me progress.

"If I could go back I would not worry about money but about following my heart and dreams."

Hana's views are similar to legendary actress Mariam Sultan who this week said she "ignored the men who disagreed with a woman being an actress in the '70s". Sultan said she followed her heart and wouldn't have stopped for anything or anyone.

Merwesh, 22, from RAK, is the director of Soweer an official competition short.

A traditional game of hide-and-seek is played over eight minutes. Lies between reality and imagination become blurred through the eyes of a child.

"I have always loved fantasy movies and I often find myself lost in my own imagination. I think my favourite movie is King Kong. I love the world of fantasy and I'm honoured to represent my nation in this way."

Al Hammadi, 21, had his work cut out as the director, producer, script writer and editor of Al Sayyara Sayyara (A Car is Just a Car) in the documentary section of the student competition.

The film explores the UAE youth's fascination with exotic and expensive cars.

"We all dress the same and yet for some reason we seem to believe the car you drive changes who you are. It just seems so crazy to me. I was upset all Emirati young people are looked at the same. We don't all drive these cars. It's not worth it, just for an image. But I think it's most important people from outside our country also understand this fact. I want Hollywood to learn about our culture as it is today, not just how it was in the past."

Al Marri, 24, directed Rasa'Ela Falasteen (Letters to Palestine), a documentary in the official competition.

The documentary features the voices of Arab people sending oral letters to Palestinians living under occupation. "This film is about connections. It's to remind us the trouble is on-going and that we mustn't forget. I spoke to Arabs from the UAE and it became apparent there are times we forget. When school is over or the news is off it's easy to shut out the fact there are these issues. As it's so difficult for people to even consider going to the country, I decided to take our messages to the people of Palestine through film. Arabs from 10 countries of various ages and backgrounds speak from the heart."

Al Hora, 22, was the cameraman on the short film Akher Amal (The Last Hope), an official competition short.

It's a constant battle between life and death with a handful of despair, determination and hope thrown in for good measure.

"The film is six minutes long and it took two days to film. That is the biggest challenge as a filmmaker in this region — time is always against you. It's tough, but lots of fun and very rewarding. I want people to know we are capable of producing great things in the UAE. I have trained myself to be a cameraman because I have a passion for what I do. I love photography, I love images. But I just need more time."

Fikri, 21, is an Emirati 2D animator and composer. Jamal Majnoon (The Mad Camel) is entered in the Student Competition Short section.

While on a desert trip Omar and his father and uncle are attacked and infected by a mad camel.

"There's no deep message in my films, it's all about entertainment and that's it. I've been experimenting with film for around seven years and I've always loved cartoons. The Simpsons is my favourite. The mad camel came to me after a nightmare. I dreamt I was being chased by a crazy camel through the desert and it inspired me.

"Every director must know his audience and that's hard for me because although I'm Emirati, I don't speak Arabic."

Jamal Majnoon will also be screened at the Cannes Short Film Corner next month.

Al Naqbi's latest offering, Khayarat (Choices) deals with adultery. It's a short in the official competition.

"I come from a family of actors and actresses and always knew this was what I wanted to do. Visual art is in my blood and I couldn't imagine doing anything else. But I think we also have to accept we are not as far advanced as other countries and must strive to learn from others.

"I am always surprised at the gap between American and Arabic series on television. It's not just the resources and facilities, it's the script and acting. I would love to bridge that gap and have learnt a lot from friends in the US."

Don't miss it

The Gulf Film Festival held in association with the Dubai Studio City runs until tomorrow, and is supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.

For more information, visit gulffilmfest.com.

And that's not all

Other films include Mohammad Ganem Al Marri's Al Seefah, which conveys the problems many UAE nationals face.

An Egyptian student and filmmaker based in the UAE, Karim Mansoor portrays the tale of a teenager in the eponymous film, Magda.

Emirati short 11:00PM by Khalid Al Abdullah is a horror thriller about a man who works on night shift in a company but needs to be out of the building by 11pm, and Saeed Salem Almas directs Undergone, a short film about a youngster's journey to self-discovery.

Today's Schedule

Grand Cinema 7

12-1:35pm: Gulf Competition Short 5

3-4:32pm: Gulf Competition Documentary 3

6:15-7:47pm: Gulf Competition Short 3

Grand Cinema 8

3:15-4:54pm: Clockwise by Khalifa Al Mukhairi

6:30-7:44pm: The Corporation by Fahmi Farouk Farahat

9:30-10:52pm: Lights 1

Grand Cinema 9

3:30-4:46pm: Student Competition Documentary 2

9:45-11:03pm: International Competition 3

Grand Cinema 10

3-4:38pm: Student Competition Short 2

6:15-8:03pm: Gulf Competition Documentary 2

9:15-10:45pm: Gulf Competition Documentary 5