DS Awards 2020 category focus: Independent Filmmaker of the Year

Published: 16 May 2020 - 5:55 a.m.
By: Nikhil Pereira

Under the Sun – Art Format Lab
Under The Sun is a result of Emirates Entertainment Experience – a culmination of the efforts of Sharjah Media City (Shams). The Emirates Entertainment Experience involves a team of filmmaking professionals who will inspire talented young creatives who want to pursue a career in filmmaking. The team is comprised of director Nahla Al Fahad (UAE), actors Habib Ghuloom and Abdullah Haider, writer Mohammed Hassan Ahmed, composer Moustafa Halawany (Egypt) and director of photography Michal Sosna (Poland).

Shams in collaboration with Art Format Lab. Upon its coming together Art Format Lab’s chairperson Khulud Abu Homos expressed her pride in the people who were selected for the dream team, saying that the Emirates Entertainment Experience will enhance the Lab’s joint initiative with Sharjah Media City by recognising the creativity of young UAE and Arab talents and promoting their role in the community.

Faisal Hashmi
Faisal Hashmi is a Dubai-raised expat who has produced 10 short films in 10 years many of which have made the rounds at several international film festivals. Hashmi dreamt of becoming a filmmaker from childhood and began his journey as a writer, the self-taught serial short film maker has made it his life’s mission to crack into the big leagues.

A decade to the date, Hashmi produced his first short film using a handy cam. “The film was shot in an apartment, and had two characters, both of whom were played by my friends that kept things easy. I chose to do a sci-fi film which, along with horror, is an easy genre. That’s when I realised I enjoyed the directorial aspect of filmmaking.”

He wrote, directed, produced and edited the film all by himself. “I decided to analyse my short down to every minute detail and critique it, but most importantly I learnt plenty from the experience.” Hashmi was now firmly considering a career in filmmaking. He was, however, midway through pursuing a degree in marketing, and starting afresh in a film school wasn’t an option. It would have to be a self-taught exercise.

Fast forward to 2019 and Hashmi is hot off the plane from the United States having visited several horror film festivals, where his latest short movie Wicken was screened, earning much more than a pat on his back. A few of the film festivals that Hashmi was featured in include the NEPA Horror Film Festival in Scranton, Mesa International Film Festival in Arizona. Wicken also played in Los Angeles at the Skiptown Playhouse Film Festival as part of the horror short films category.

Shahad Ameen (Editor’s Choice)
Shahad Ameen has the distinction of being Saudi’s first female director. Ameen’s directorial debut Scales was released at the Venice Film Festival in October 2019, as part of the Critics’ Week competition, where it received the Verona Film Club Award, selected by a jury of 30 members.

Scales is an Image Nation Abu Dhabi production, and Ameen feels privileged to have a reputed production company backing her in her debut venture. It all started a few years ago after Ameen won two awards at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

Prior to working on Scales, Ameen’s debut short film — Iron Mermaid — was a relatively big production which had 100 people working on it.

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