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The future’s filmmakers
The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) just hosted a trade fair inviting students to meet institutes in the region that offer courses on filmmaking. We spoke to some of the students and faculty.
December 17, 2008 4:59 by Aarti Nagraj
19-year-old Vicky wants to make thrillers and drama movies in Hollywood when he grows up. He also plans on having a production house in Dubai. “Let’s see what happens,” says the aspiring filmmaker.
Vicky represents Dubai’s next generation of filmmakers. He and his friends hope that they will make it big in the future. “The film industry does have a market here, but it is going to take a while for it to begin because there are a lot of changes and stuff happening here in Dubai. I think we are like the pioneers to start of at this age and at this time,” he says.
Authorities from the filmmaking institutes in the region agree. “The support of DIFF and a number of smaller regional film festivals, and certainly with the growth of Dubai Studio City and others like that, its inevitable that it will be a very successful medium in this part of the world,” says Anthony Frantzis, the head of marketing and strategic alliances of SAE institute.
He says that the institute’s film faculty is currently full, and that they stopped advertising a year ago because of the growing number of students interested in the industry.
Simon Hunter, the president of the New York Film Academy in Abu Dhabi says that they have been marketing vigorously in the country. Once people hear about them, then there is a lot of interest from students across the region.
One such student is Suzan Iravanian. The short story writer came to the academy from Iran, and says she is planning to make her stories come to life. So does she think Dubai or Abu Dhabi will give her the support she needs?
“I think the problem here is that they don’t have good ideas, but they have the money.,” she says. “So, you can do anything and they will accept you. There are lots of good opportunities here. But I don’t know maybe they love to give their own native talents a better chance.”
But films by the Gulf nationals are few. So will the film industry be able to persuade youngsters to make Dubai and Abu Dhabi as their base?
“I think it’s the early days of the industry, and you are going to need a couple of frontiersmen,” says Hunter. “People who do it for the first time inspire others to do it as well […] There is certainly an enormous amount of support in the Middle East for filmmaking. And its not just budgets, there is also a lot of infrastructure that is being built here. And so I think it will become over the next few years more and more apparent that this is the place to shoot.”
With bases like Dubai Studio City and Twofour54 coming up in UAE, there is a lot of scope for growth. But with the country’s strong censorship policies, is creativity taking a hit?
“I think certainly think that students here are more mindful of the cultural and other sensitivities, perhaps more so in than many other places in the world,” says Frantzis. “But it doesn’t curb creativity.”
Hunter also agrees. “I think it can be seen as a hindrance, or it can be seen as this is our culture, lets celebrate it,” he says.
Vicky feels differently. “There are quite a lot of restrictions here,” he says. “So there’s a lot of stuff that you can’t show in films and you can’t even make movies relating to your country like India or America can, because it may be bad and you may get caught here.”
“You know sometimes censorship really can help the filmmakers to make their movies. People will like it more,” says Iravanian. “Like in my country (Iran), you can’t show sex relations. So, you will find another way to show it. These ways will attract people. You are forced to search for other ways to portray the same thing.”
So will Dubai become the next Hollywood in ten years time? “Make it 15,” says Vicky.