Emirati filmmaker, Aisha Alhammadi from Sharjah was one of the finalists in the Smovies competition with her short film, “I Love UAE”. The Smovies competition is an opportunity for filmmakers to submit “super shorts” under changing themes, for a chance to have their film screened at VOX Cinemas with the coming attractions trailers. The Smovies competition, which is open to everyone, is the brainchild of Tempo Magazine’s own, Sana Bagersh. As a member of the Smovies’ Jury, I get to review entries from established filmmakers, as well as first timers.
The recent competition, entitled Why I Love UAE was in honour of the UAE National Day and the new federal holiday, UAE Commemoration Day. The competition was supported by New York Film Academy, Vox Cinemas and the US Embassy. Aisha’s film was well received.
Michelle: Aisha, is I Love UAE, your first film?
Aisha: It is my first film, and I will be working on other projects soon.
Michelle: Can you tell us about some of the projects you are working on?
Aisha: One is fiction, and the other one might be a documentary.
Michelle: Do you write and produce as well?
Aisha: Yes, I am going to start writing my first script soon, but producing, no, not yet. What I am working on right now is a dramatic short film, but in general besides the drama, I am interested in adventure, fantasy and action.
Michelle: Did you go to film school, or is this something you have learned on your own?
Aisha: This is my last year at Zayed University in Dubai, I am studying media, majoring in film and video.
As media students, the university provides us the equipment we need to shoot fictional and documentary short films. The classroom exercises focus on directing and writing and help us gain experience.
The university encourages us to participate in many competitions that are related to our major – I think it’s good experience and a great opportunity for the students.
Michelle: What is your inspiration for I Love UAE? There were some nice shots of the flag display on the Dubai beach, and many patriotic Emiratis and citizens were featured.
Aisha: Because the theme was National Day I came up with an idea to focus on citizens in addition to the various nationalities living in the UAE, including children, expressing their love towards the nation. The flags were part of the National Day celebrations. I liked how they organized them on the beach, so I chose that location to be in my film.
Michelle: Is there a topic you are passionate about, that you would like to explore in film?
Aisha: I have tendencies towards many topics that I would like to make a film on, for example the pirate and cowboy stories and the historical love stories as well. I am also interested in converting novels to films. I start to imagine the characters and scenes while I am reading, and there are many novels I hope I can turn into film.
Michelle: If you could choose an important topic to shoot a documentary film about, what would the topic be and why?
Aisha: I think it would be about someone who has sparked my curiosity and inspired me, whether they are famous or not. It would need to be someone I would like to know more about, and whose experiences I’d like to convey to the world.
Michelle: What are your thoughts on women in the Middle East in the media industry, good and bad, and what would you like to see change?
Aisha: Women have proven themselves in the media in various fields, and they receive a lot of support and encouragement to continue in the media field.
Yes, we still can see that the men are managing the media institutions and production companies more than women. However, it is possible to see more women involved with men in these roles in the future especially that we have so many examples of successful women in the Middle East in the media industry.
Michelle: What are your top 5 favourite films?
Aisha: Pirates of the Caribbean, The Revenant, Titanic, The Martian and the Indian film Bajirao Mastani.