All you need to know about film in Dubai
It can be easy to get lost in Dubai’s film scene, with everything from Hollywood-standard blockbusters being shot in the deserts (hello, Furious 7) to cinematic experiences like Reel Cinemas’ 270-degree ScreenX that will leave you, if nothing else, wide-eyed. We’re even treated to promo spectacles, like a life-sized Godzilla fittingly appearing on the Burj Khalifa, to muster up some hype for upcoming releases.
The city clearly does the big screen justice for all kinds of cinephiles in Dubai, but for those who wander off the city’s cinematic walk of fame, you’ll find a more arty scene bursting with creativity. Yes, Dubai’s indie film industry is alive and well, and that’s largely thanks to Cinema Akil – the film hub for all things experimental, classic, arty and foreign.
Being Dubai’s biggest independent film platform is quite the title, so indie fans can certainly expect it to show critically acclaimed international movies from around the world, from different decades and genres, all to increase awareness of different styles of film-making. For four years the platform originally brought independent cinema to the UAE when it first started in 2014 with pop-up venues throughout Dubai, but it eventually (and thankfully) found a home in Alserkal Avenue. You can thank Cinema Akil co-founder Butheina Kazim for that.
Her goal was to set up a hub where the film-loving community of Dubai could come together, watch film-makers from far and wide and discuss their thoughts over of a cup of tea. Low and behold, Cinema Akil does just that.
Here, it’s not like going to a multiplex to munch on popcorn and be enveloped by roaring action. This form of escapism presents hot topics of the modern age through lesser-known indie movies, bringing the Dubai community together in a different way.
That’s not to say watching an action movie doesn’t have its perks, but Cinema Akil showcases movies from independent filmmakers that delve into topics and real-world issues that mankind as a whole has to face – one’s that strike up conversations well after audiences walk out of the theatre.
Cinema Akil also gives cinephiles the chance to watch foreign flicks that previously wouldn’t be shown in Dubai’s main cinemas through a series of festivals, including Korean flicks big and small, along with the always-adored Studio Ghibli week.
“We focus on films that have a lot of high artistic integrity or value. They reflect either human experience or excellence and cinematic creation or important critical issues that we are facing as mankind”, said Kazim.
“These are things that drive us rather than just commercial return or entertainment or escapism – and if that happens, great – we’re happy when we get full houses and our box office works.”
And a full house you will see a lot if you head over to Cinema Akil’s comfortable setting. The cinema features an assortment of pillowed couches and even arm chairs for those who come alone (which is fine to do, by the way).
If you’re after a thought-provoking experience through the medium of movies, look no further.
Where: Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz
Dubai International Film Festival
Who needs to hop on a flight to the Cannes Film Festival when Dubai has its own equivalent? The most influential film festival in the region is coming back this year after taking a one-year hiatus, and this time it’s shifting to a new strategy, embracing significant changes in the region’s creative landscape.
“DIFF has established Dubai as a world-class destination in the film and content industry. It serves as a platform to promote cultural understanding between the region and the world, as well as the development of the local and regional film industry, giving the opportunity to many ambitious filmmakers to shine”, said Chairman Dubai Film and TV Commission Jamal Al Sharif.
Now taking place every two years, Dubai International Film Festival has screened almost 2,000 films including over 500 regional Arab movies since it was first established in 2004.
Contact: +971 4 363 3456
MENA Cinema Forum
If you want to know the intricate details of the region’s cinema industry, the largest gathering of cinema industry professionals in the UAE should just about tell you all you need to know. The 2019 edition of the MENA Cinema Forum is coming back this October, and will include a three-day conference, dedicated expo hours, film slates, private screenings, floor presentations, product demos, workshops, awards and so much more. Led by some of the region’s biggest cinema figures, including Cameron Mitchell, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas and Majid Al Futtaim Leisure and Entertainment, and Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen, CEO of Novo Cinemas, expect over 60 speakers and 800 experts in the field of cinema production offering workshops, exclusive screenings of international and regional content, along with an expo featuring the latest in cinema entertainment technology. As in, products like the next generation of seating in cinema. That alone is worth checking out.
It all takes place at the Conrad Dubai, from Tuesday October 22 until Thursday October 24, transforming its second and fourth floor conference halls just for the occasion. Oh, and on its last day, expect a mega post-event party, packed with
plenty of surprises.
When: October 22-October 24
Where: Conrad Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road
Iconic Art Productions
Bust out your DSLRs, it’s time to get shooting. Or, at least start learning the basics of filmmaking, lighting and even directing. Icon Art Production has a list of workshops to attend at all levels.
Filmmakers, cameramen, screenwriters, producers and directors, this is where you’ll learn the ins and outs of the industry. Work with an experienced team of cameramen, sound assistants, and directors that will guide and share their experiences, demonstrate techniques and teach the best methods when it comes to making films.
Movie fans will know not all the magic happens when filming. Why do you think you hear the phrase “fix it in post” so much? In this class, you’ll learn all about video editing, from the main programmes such as the Project Window and Record Monitor, to understanding a digital editor’s workflow at a professional level.
Where: Warehouse No. 12, Al Quoz
When: Saturday-Thursday, 9am-6pm