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DUBAI: Filmmakers in the UAE need a platform to showcase their work, Sucheta Phule, the curator of Friday’s Desert Rose International Film Festival, told Arab News.
Phule said that filmmakers in the country, whether they are nationals or expatriates, need a platform, as well as support from authorities and the private sector.
“It is sad that the city with such beautiful diversity has no institution or platform that can take their work forward and mentor them,” Phule said.
The festival is an initiative by Phule, supported by Dubai-based performing arts space The Junction which provides the facilities for film screenings. A total of five short films, made by both local and expatriate filmmakers, were showcased at the festival.
“We are producing brilliant talent and creative work by both local and (expatriate) filmmakers. But there is no support at all. The filmmaker has to invest in the film by him/herself and the struggle goes on,” said Indian-origin Phule, who is also a filmmaker. One of her films, “Nirrutar,” was also screened at the festival.
The curator believes there is a vacuum after the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) was made into a biennial event. But, according to her, DIFF was not supporting local talent in the way she believes it should have.
“DIFF preferred films with only one kind of filmmaker. It was not open for all kinds of local filmmakers. But, all said and done, even DIFF is out. We are without any festival these days,” she said.
Manahel Mahmood, an Emirati filmmaker whose film “Love Him as I Do” was one of the popular films at the festival, also lamented the apparent lack of a platform for UAE-based filmmakers.
“Whatever we do, we do it by ourselves. Even for funding, it is very difficult to find full support for short films,” said Mahmood, whose film about the struggle of a mother with an autistic child cost her about $5,445 to complete.
“The UAE has a great treasure of diverse filmmaking talent. We can easily build a very successful local film industry, provided we get full support from the authorities as well as from the private sector.”
Rashmi Kotriwala, the co-founder of The Junction, agreed.
“There are very few platforms or events that focus on local films. If at all, they are sporadic. We are, therefore, trying to give a consistent push.”

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