by Alex Ritman.
For the first time in its 60-year history, the Berlinale in February this year included a UAE short film in its programme. Just a few months earlier the very same film came second in the Emirati Muhr Awards programme of the Dubai International Film Festival, after having won Best Short at the New York Eurasian Film Festival and receiving its premiere at Switzerland’s Locarno Film Festival. And, almost a year to the day, before filming had even started, it picked up the second prize for Best Emirati Script at the Gulf Film Festival.
This week, on the back of this international success, Sabeel, directed by Khalid Al Mahmood and written by Mohammed Hassan Ahmed, returns to where it all began: the Gulf Film Festival – to compete in the main Gulf competition.
While it may not have the same red-carpeted glitz as the region’s celebrity-strewn international film festivals, the Gulf Film Festival, which starts on Thursday at Dubai Festival City, is of central importance for the region’s filmmakers, helping local films such as Sabeel get the initial lift-off they need for further success.
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