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GCC cinematic milestones

The world of feature films is still developing, but to date the GCC has managed to put a handful of flicks. Probably a lot more than you expected.

July 10, 2011 4:06 by

  • When one considers the hundred-year old tradition of cinema humans have enjoyed and consequently the thousands upon thousands of films that have been churned out during the century, it is really hard to process the fact that the whole GCC has less than 20 films to its name. While Saudi Arabia produced its first feature film, the UAE and Qatar only put out their first feature films last year in 2010. Quite a late start, but judging by the way things are going, it is a rather promising start. Helping pave the way to progress is the exclusive agreement Imagenation Abu Dhabi has just signed with Empire International to distribute Imagenation Abu Dhabi’s locally produced films. So will we be seeing more films added to this list of GCC feature films in the future? Only time will tell…

  • Directed by Tobe Hooper (Texas Chain Saw Mascarre), Kipp's been wanting to see Djinn for a while now. This supernatural thriller tells of the story of a young Emirati couple who return home from the US to discover that their new apartment in a luxury high-rise, built on the site of an abandoned fishing village, is also home to the malevolent djinns.

  • If you haven't seen the UAE's first feature film already, then shame on you! Kipp's not going to say the movie is going to change your life, but it is milestone for the country, albeit a milestone that mirrors the same plot as the Oscar-winning Hollwood movie Crash. If you still must ask about the plot? It’s a film about three different people from very different walks of life living in Dubai, whose paths ‘collide’.

  • So even though this was the first Saudi Arabian feature-film to be made, it was actually shot in Dubai. Of course, cinema in Saudi Arabia is still a no-go. But its Director, Ayman Halawani, is an ambitious man. When he was talking to the BBC at the time of the release, he said "The Gulf as a whole has maybe a tenth of the population of the Middle East - but it accounts for about four-fifths of the advertising spend."So it's hugely rich - but for cultural reasons Saudi Arabia finds film very problematic. We think we can change that, over a period of a time."

  • The first ever feature film from Qatar is set again on a Gulf legend including a djinn. The film, which means “Clockwise” (Aqaribabzah) is a horror-thriller set in the 1930s, which tells the story of three men who make a bargain with a djinn in exchange for the ability to become master fijiri singers. And as they say in these parts, you never make a deal with a djinn.

  • Unlike the other GCC states, Bahrain has a far more developed film industry, with more than eight feature length films to its name. Granted eight is hardly anything to brag about, but when compared to its neighbours it is a stellar record. One of the most successful Bahraini movies titled “A Bahraini Tale” is an epic drama set during the Arab-Israeli war of 1967. The film raises serious questions about the role of women in a male-dominated world within the context of an Arab society that is just beginning to put its faith in the pan-Arabism popularised by Gamal Nasser. IMDB estimates the film racked in a healthy $1 million at the box office.

  • Bahrain's most recent feature film, released earlier this year revolves around the story of Rayan, Yousif, and Hamad who are wrongfully accused of murder.

  • Directed by Emirati film director Nawaf Al-Janahi follows the story of a young Emirati boy and girl on "a shared journey of self-discovery" as promos for the film suggest.


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