Film enthusiasts pack the Abu Dhabi Corniche where the inaugural edition of the Tropfest Arabia was held. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Over 12,000 film enthusiasts enjoyed a night filled with movies and live entertainment as Tropfest Arabia successfully launched its inaugural edition on Friday.

The one night event was the latest installment of the successful Tropfest, billed as the world's largest short film festival, which originated in Australia.

Organised in partnership with twofour54 and presented by MBC2, the festival was a part of the month-long Yasalam series of events organised in conjunction with the Formula 1 race that will take place from November 11 to 13.

In keeping with its unique tradition, the 12 films chosen out of entries submitted from across the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) each incorporated the Tropfest Signature Item (TSI), Star.

"I'm amazed by how many people turned up...everything completely exceeded my expectations not just in terms of films but also the set-up...we leapfrogged the first decade of Tropfest in Australia. But of course, we plan to continue building on all that has been achieved. There are always several things that have to be worked out, but I believe it will just keep getting better and better," said John Polson, founder of Tropfest.

Fruit Bowl trophy

In addition to beating 11 other hopefuls for the coveted "Fruit Bowl" trophy, Iraqi filmmaker Jasem Al Jabbouri (Flock of Stars) received $12,500 (Dh45,900), a trip to Los Angeles to meet top film executives and a trip to Australia to be a judge at Tropfest Australia 2012.

"I'm feeling so many different emotions right now, it's hard to say how I feel...its been an amazing experience participating in Tropfest Arabia, even though there were some challenges before I was able to come to Abu Dhabi...I can't wait to meet the film executives... this will be an amazing opportunity and hopefully I'll receive some great advice on how I can enhance my career further," he said.

The evening event also saw the attendance of many notable Arab celebrities, including renowned Egyptian actor and Tropfest Arabia co-director Ahmad Helmy, Egyptian actress Mona Zaki, UAE filmmaker and one of the event's judges Nayla Al Khaja.

Tropfest Australia 2011 winner Damon Gameau was also in attendance.

The top three films at Tropfest Arabia

1st place: Flock of Stars by Jasem Al Jabbouri (Iraq)

2nd place: The Smile by Lubna Saeed Al Amoodi (UAE)

3rd place: They Say by Ahmad Gazal (Egypt)

Best Actor: Ali Salloum

Best Actress: Dana Dajani

For more information about the festival please visit www.tropfestarabia.com