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Al Marmoom: Film in the Desert opens for inaugural edition

  • A celebration of film and Emirati culture set in the Al Marmoom desert
  • Organized by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and offering a holistic experience for all members of society
  • A selection of film screenings inspired by desert environments
  • Interactive and engaging workshops held in collaboration with prestigious partners
  • Award-winning director Nadine Labaki heads line up of experts giving masterclasses and discussions
  • Aimed at increasing awareness and knowledge about the emerging film industry
  • Strengthening the country’s global cultural and artistic reputation

Dubai, UAE, 3 March 2020: Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) opens the first edition of ‘Al Marmoom: Film in the Desert’, which will take place from 4 – 7 March 2020 in the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve. As part of Dubai Art Season, ‘Al Marmoom: Film in the Desert’ is held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and aligns with the new cultural vision of Dubai to establish the city as a global centre for art and culture, position it as an incubator for creativity, and ensure that it remains a thriving hub for talent.

A unique concept in the region, the event acts as a gathering place for enthusiasts who can come together to watch films under the stars amid the golden dunes of the desert and learn more about the industry from experts. It also has a focus on heritage, within which visitors can witness some of the cultural richness of Dubai and experience an authentic taste of what life was like in the desert for generations in the past. Designed for all members of society, including families, students, as well as people of determination, the event is set to take an established position on the cultural landscape of Dubai. It will also showcase the distinct Al Marmoom region to all visitors, which will increase widespread appreciation for the Emirate of Dubai.

Opening in Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve on the evening of Wednesday, March 4th, the event welcomes celebrities and industry experts. Award-winning director, writer, and actress Nadine Labaki is one of the event’s most prominent speakers. Through a conversation with her, she will talk about her journey to the Oscars and Cannes Film Festival for her 2018 movie Capernaum as well as about stereotyping Arabs in film. Furthermore, Hatem Ali, a prominent Syrian actor, writer and director will take part in a panel discussion with Dr. Habib Ghuloom, an Emirati TV director and actor and Mayssa Maghrebi, an Emirati-Moroccan actress, on how to support and refine local talent, and the importance of developing cinematic content locally and globally.

Thanks to a series of exciting partnerships for the inaugural edition of Al Marmoom: Film in The Desert, the event is shaping up to be a fertile ground of collaboration. Dubai Culture is partnering with du telecommunications company and Dubai TV and Film Commission (DTFC) for full support across all aspects of the event. Bab Al Shams, one of Dubai’s luxurious desert resorts is the hospitality partner and VOX Cinemas is helping to attract film lovers from across the region to attend this unique event.

The selection of films screened at Al Marmoom is curated by the UAE’s only arthouse cinema, Cinema Akil and there is a pop-up selection of non-dialogue films presented by Films In a Box. These films include Sharp Tools, a documentary profiling the work and life of Emirati artist Hassan Sharif made by prolific UAE film-maker Nujoom Al Ghanem and a restored version of the 1981 classic Lion of the Desert, a Libyan historical action film starring Anthony Quinn and made by Mustafa Akkad

In addition, the event will provide an opportunity for some stars of the local and regional cinematographic scene to exchange their experiences through rich panel discussions. Al Marmoom: Film in The Desert’s programming section will feature a session about filmmaking and Dubai’s position as a global cinematic destination with Jamal Al Sharif, Chairman of Dubai TV and Film Production Committee; Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Tourism; and Saeed Al Janahi, Director of Operations at Dubai Television and Film Production. In another session, Moaz Al-Sheikh, CEO of ‘Starzplay’, and Toni Al Massih, director of distribution and content at VOX Cinemas, will discuss film distribution and the role of modern digital platforms in the presentation and spread of films, as well as the impact of this on traditional cinemas. Another session featuring Emirati director Mohammed Saeed Harib founder of the popular Freej series, alongside Saudi director and producer Ayman Jamal, director of the animated movie, Bilal.

Leading institutions in the academic and film production sectors from Dubai are also participating in Al Marmoom: Film in the Desert through targeted workshops for children and young adults, organized by the SAE Institute in Dubai. Other partners have designed sessions for adults including: American University in Dubai, Zayed University, Middlesex University Dubai, Arab Film Studio, Nikon, Panasonic and FX Makeup.

Al Marmoom will provide a platform for local filmmakers to showcase their work, which will provide more opportunities for collaboration and therefore increase creative output. The festival will also establish the country as a destination for filmmakers as well as highlighting the identity, heritage, culture and contributions of the UAE and the region to audiences at home and across the wider region.