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Giving life to Emirati Cinema

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Sunaina Rana / Emirates Business

The Black Box Cinema project by Emirati filmmaker, Nawaf Al Janahi, was one of the main highlights of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. The cinema programme featured the Emirati and Arabic films along with a platform to discuss the local cinema movement and other professional aspects in the world of filmmaking.
One of the participants at the cinema programme was a young 21-year-old, Emirati filmmaker Khaled Bensahli, an aspiring filmmaker, who started his career in the film industry as a cinematography, for which he received recognition at numerous international film festivals. Covering 3 continents, Bensahli has gained a respectable reputation among his colleagues in the young film industry within the United Arab Emirates.
Talking to Emirates Business, Bensahli said, “My film ‘Cross the line’ is a short documentary that is being featured here at the Black Box Cinema. I made this documentary around two years ago in 2014, this short film has really been very close to my heart and I am really enthralled of the film being featured here.” This corner at the Book Fair is an attempt to bring books and the cinema closer, visitors have the chance of purchasing specialised books on cinema from participating publishing houses along with the opportunity to choose one of the films to watch.
Elaborating on his style of filmmaking, he said, “For me filmmaking is not only entertainment industry, it has a much deeper meaning to it.
“I have mainly worked on short films or documentaries, however occasionally I do work in the commercial films as well.”
Bensahi, then explained his motive behind joining this field. “I deem that this is a pure medium that gives us the liberty to tell a story and try and convey a message to the society and help someone out.”
He further added, “It is not always about making revenue. It is about conveying a message. I have invested a lot of money in my short film ‘Cross the line’ and I did lose a lot of funding, but whenever I look at my film, it makes me happy. Therefore it is a powerful medium and one should ustilise it in bringing about a change and motivating others. Featuring my movie here at the Black Box is simply phenomenal. I had made my film in Dubai, and I was not quite sure if people in Abu Dhabi would know about it, but here we are and I am very glad that I got the opportunity to explore this place.”
Another participant at the Black Box cinema was Fayssal Bensahli is an aspiring director, writer, and editor. Fayssal always likes to incorporate new visual elements that can subconsciously add meaning and purpose to unlock greater intellectual depth to the showcased visual piece. He has also worked in tandem with his brother Khaled Bensahli.
Fayssal’s films have been featured at more than 20 international film festivals across the world. Sharing his views on being a part of the Book Fair, he said, “It was an honor being a part of Black Box Cinema this year. I attended the black box cinema 2 years ago as an audience member. Personally, I am very inspired by Nawaf Al Janahi, the founder of Black Box Cinema; it was truly a magnificent feeling when I first heard my two films are going to be included in this year’s edition.”
Fayassal explained further, about his movies that are being featured at the Fair, “’Omnia’ Directed by the talented Amna Alnowais is a one of a kind film. This film talked about a very sensitive topic that has not been touched by any other filmmaker. As the producer, I was the happiest when I saw the response; apparently, the film won the Best Short Film award at the Dubai Film Festival this year.”
He added, “Whereas ‘Made of Clay’ my second film, explored the intricate path young Emirati artists, have to take to achieve their dreams. Taken through the eyes of Ahmed, a young stop motion artist who points out the struggle he goes through in his daily life, even with the people he is really close to like his own father. The film has been received very well by international film festivals around the world, including being the first film from the UAE to premiere at the New York International Short Film Festival.”
Talking about the complexity of certain topics and creating awareness, Bensahi stated,“My next film is based on a girl, who is suffering from hirschsprung disease, I believe that the most important part of making a short film or documentary is touching the topics that the people in general are not very open about talking.
“Therefore, making a documentary on similar topics helps in creating awareness.”
The Black Box Cinema was a project to establish awareness and growth of Emirati cinema, considering that films as an integral part of the UAE’s cultural scene. The project also aimed to highlight Emirati cinema globally.

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