The Mohammed bin Rashid School for Communication (MBRSC) at the American University in Dubai (AUD) concluded the first edition of the Student Short Film Festival ON: Original Narrative last night with an awards ceremony where student filmmakers, jury members, and AUD community members hit the glamorous red carpet for the closing night.
The event was attended by Mr. Elias Bou Saab, AUD Executive Vice President, Dr. Jihad Nader, AUD Provost/Chief Academic Officer, and Mr. Ali Jaber, Dean of MBRSC, who took to the stage to honor the winners and the jury.
Film Director Sophie Boutros, Student Affairs and Communication Manager at MBRSC and Chair of the Festival’s committee, commented: “A large number of films were submitted for the competition, and the committee was able to select a group of high-quality films despite the intensity of the competition between the nominated entries. We are very proud of the success of this first edition of the ON: Original Narrative, and we look forward to next year’s edition.”
During the 2-day festival, around 60 films from the UAE, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Netherlands, Morocco, Ireland, USA, France, KSA, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Syria, competed for the different categories, including Best Documentary, Best Fiction, Best Animaion, Best Webisode and Best Screenplay. The winners were chosen by jury members who consisted of prominent people from the film industry: Nawaf Al-Janahi, actor and a Film Director from the UAE; Muriel Aboulrouss, award-winning Cinematographer from Lebanon; Bashar Ibrahim, Palestinian film critic born in Syria and Editor-in-Chief of the Arabic daily bulletin for DIFF, and Editorial Manager in Arabic in DIFF and GFF; Samer Marzooqi, Dubai Film Market Manager; Hady Zaccak, Lebanese award-winning Documentary Maker and a Professor at IESAV Film School (Saint-Joseph University); Amjad Al Rasheed, award-winning Director and Producer from Jordan; and Mais Gammoh, Filmmaker and Cinematographer.
“The idea of this festival is a great one; especially that it is student-oriented since most of the festivals are usually aimed for professionals; […] as we lived the love of cinema from its early beginnings,” commented Bashar Ibrahim. As for Samer Al Marzooqi, he shared, “This festival stands out the most in the region for attracting students from around the world this year. We are at the beginning of our journey, but the first step has been achieved to become one of the best student film festivals in the Arab world and within in a few years.”
On the competition, Hady Zaccak explained, “It was very tough especially in the short fiction and documentary categories, so the decision was not easy. There was a mutual agreement from all the jury members while choosing the winners.” The winners for each category are: Honorable Mention for Documentary: “Samar” by Mohammed Rahahlah from Jordan; Best Documentary: “Laylit Khamis” by Osama Jabri from Jordan; Honorable mention for Fiction: “The Dark Outside” by Darin J. Sallam from Jordan; two winners for Best Fiction: “People Disappear all the Time” by Cyril Nehme from Lebanon and “Colors of Silence” by Asmae Al Moudir from Morocco; Honorable mention for Web-Series: “Shakleen Mabyehko” by AUD Graduate Rawan Almohammad from Syria; Best Animation: “Koko’s Play” by Lea Kamel from Lebanon; Best Screenplay for: “Al Yaqubyya” by AUD MBRSC Student Dania Moussa from Syria; People’s Choice Award: “Studio Beirut” by Mokhtar Beyrouth from Lebanon; and the Grand Prize Award: “People Disappear All the Time” by Cyril Nehme from Lebanon.
The festival attracted film enthusiasts from the region and included a variety of entertaining and educational activities, discussion panels and workshops. A discussion panel on ‘How to be Viewed, Liked and Shared on Social Media’ was led by Abdullah Mando from Uturn, Tima Shomali from Filmizion and Kamil Roxas from UAE travelogue series. The second panel talked about ‘How to Package Your Project to be Successful’ run by Vida Rizk from Aflamnah, Muaid Khiti from DIFF, Khaled Khouri from TwoFour54 and Daniela Tully from Shiver Town Road Films.
The first workshop was on ‘Read Films Better Make Better Films’ given by Dr. David Melbye, Professor, Critic, Music Producer and Composer from Southern California; the second workshop was ‘Cine-Jam’ led by Muriel Aboulrouss, “The festival was very welcoming and warm, I was very lucky to be here” expressed Aboulrouss; and the third was themed ‘Branded Video Advertising Content and the Art of Digital Storytlling’ organized by Cadillac during which Kamal Dimashkie, Executive Regional Managing Director for Leo Burnett UAE, and Yousef Tuqan, Digital Marketing expert in MENA region, sent students on a 2-week mission to produce a 30-60sec web video for Cadillac CTS for their video competition.
The festival’s Platinum Sponsor is Cadillac, with the support of the Strategic Partner Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), and MBC Group as Media Partner. “Cadillac, staying true to its innovative spirit, is so proud to have partaken in such an inspiring initiative,” expressed Mr. Nadim Ghrayeb, Cadillac Brand Manager at General Motors Middle East. He added “In doing so, we hope to build a strong connection with the student community and encourage them to further pursue their passions, seek originality and produce revolutionary content. We wish these remarkable students every success on their bold journey.”
Through the Mohammed bin Rashid School for Communication, the ‘ON: Original Narrative – Student Short Film Festival’ will become an annual tradition at the American University in Dubai and a platform for talented Arab students.
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