Alice Kharoubi juggles short-film selections at Cannes and Abu Dhabi Film Festival

In conversation with Alice Kharoubi, head of Cannes Short Films and in charge of programming at ADFF.
Alice Kharoubi is the head of short films at The Cannes International Film Festival and Abu Dhabi Film Festival. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
Alice Kharoubi is the head of short films at The Cannes International Film Festival and Abu Dhabi Film Festival. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

It’s a good thing that Alice Kharoubi finds watching films fun.

“I split my year in two,” says Kharoubi, who is the head of short films at the Cannes International Film Festival and the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. “I work from mid-November until the end of June for Cannes and then I work for Abu Dhabi Film Festival. So, of course, I watch films all year around and it helps me for both jobs. I think it’s similar, picking films for both festivals.” But that said, she doesn’t “really have a break between the festivals”.

It’s the calm before the storm. On Wednesday, the opening morning of the Cannes film festival, we are sitting in an open-plan office in the building known as the Palais, but which resembles a conference centre.

Kharoubi, who grew up in Antibes, in the south of France, and took a cinema course at high school in Cannes before going to university in Nice, is the woman every short filmmaker in the world wants to meet. She says she doesn’t count the number of films that she has to watch during the year. “What motivates me is to try to pick films that would affect the audience emotionally: to make them happy; but sometimes I want to surprise them or make them angry.”

Cannes has developed its short-film section over the past three years.

“There is the entity that is called Cannes Court Metrage and within that you have two different things: The Short Film Corner and The Official Competition,” says Kharoubi. “The films for competition are chosen by a committee comprising eight people. For the Short Film Corner, we do not select the films at all, we just make a filter and it’s a wide market. The filter is aimed at rejecting films that can be seen on YouTube. We want films that have a potential to be selected in a film festival and that can be distributed.”

The Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami will be presiding over the competition this year.

The Short Film Corner also includes films curated by institutions and schools. Two of these selections come from the Middle East. Best of Arabic Short Films by twofour54 will showcase five films, including two shorts from UAE-based directors – 13:37 directed by Eisa Al Sabousi and Sunset State by Mustafa Abbas. There is also a Made in Qatar selection presented by the Doha Film Institute.

artslife@thenational.ae

Published: May 17, 2014 04:00 AM

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