Move over Spielberg and Scorsese - make way for the newest filmmakers from the UAE.
To make a movie is a dream come true for most. To make a movie which is then selected to screen at the Cannes Film Festival is "beyond words" according to Sarodjiny Carlwig, a Dubai-based director and producer.
Learning from the best will be the order of the day for Carlwig, whose short film Marie was selected for at the festival, which begins today in France.
Filmmakers Ashraf Gori and Abdul Basit Qureshi join Carlwig in the celebrations after their flicks Xero Error and Fish in a Bowl were also selected by the jury panel for the Short Film Corner this week.
The main festival line-up includes just two Middle Eastern official competition films - Hors-la-loi by Rachid Bouchareb and Certified Copy by MEIFF '09 narrative feature competition jury president Abbas Kiarostami.
tabloid! met the hopefuls minutes before they jetted to the south of France and got to the bottom of what it takes to make a Cannes-worthy movie.
Sarodjiny Carlwig, 33
From US, living in Dubai for two years. Having worked as a lawyer for Warner Bros and New Line Cinema, in 2005, she started her own production company working on television shows and feature films. Two years ago she launched Globe Trotter Productions supported by her family who have always been in the movie business.
Movie: Marie (12 minutes) "We shot Marie in Dubai. It's about a woman who's turning 30 and all the emotions she's going through. She's looking at her past life and doesn't really know where she's going. We shot it in about eight hours on a Sunday afternoon."
Plot: On the eve of her 30th birthday, Marie retrieves a box of pictures. When looking at the pictures, Marie submerges herself in her past by remembering the pain and joy of those moments in her life.
About Cannes: "I have been going to Cannes for the past 10 years. It's something you have to experience in your lifetime if you're in the movie business. I always say I age about 100 years after 15 days at Cannes."I have been to Cannes for years with the companies I have been working for. I've written contracts for Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Sir Anthony Hopkins. This is something special for me because I made it happen for myself."
Ashraf Gori, 36
From India, living in Dubai for 34 years.
Movie: Levity-Xero Error Minus1 (8 minutes). "My plan was to direct and produce the first computer-generated sci-fi film, called Xero Error. It's a film about history being lost and in order to retrieve it, scientists create the first time travel machine and cyborg, XE7, to send back in time to record the history lost. "It's all virtual sets and filming with computer actors. A few scenes have real actors who we auditioned after a Twitter and Facebook campaign. Those scenes were shot on a green screen in Dubai. "The eight-minute short cost around Dh100,000 though Gori had access to many in-house resources and volunteers from his CGI company Xpanse CGI. "CGI movies are costly, but I wanted to make it happen. I had to limit the cast and crew."
About Cannes: "This will be my first time at Cannes and I'm looking forward to seeing what can happen to my film and what goes on. I'm sure it's quite exciting."
Plot: Scientists from the future create Project Xero Error to track lost history. An advanced natural intelligence cyborg XE7 witnesses an unexplained event in time.
Abdul Basit Qureshi, 34
From Pakistan and has lived in Dubai his whole life.
Movie: Fish in a Bowl (14 minutes). "My film is a social fiction story about the last moments of the life of a prisoner who is facing the death penalty. I wanted to make the film without touching on religious or cultural aspects."People are making movies from mobile [phones] these days, but if you want to make a quality movie you need the funds. This film cost about Dh70,000."While money is important, I also believe a good film is about the art of story-telling."
Plot: An individual's life is taken against his will. The act questions the social norms and the authority therein for one to take away the life of another. In the man's last moments, both the values and disregard of life co-exist.
About Cannes: "Cannes is a great window of opportunity. I am looking forward to meeting with like-minded people."I'm also happy because the people at Cannes seem very organised. They have already provided great opportunities to interact with film buyers and producers from around the world at scheduled times, which is great."