Emirati Women's Day: UAE female filmmakers to shine at Warehouse421 screening

The programme, titled Through Her Lens, will feature productions by emerging UAE talent

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Warehouse421, in collaboration with Arab Film Studio, is holding a special screening on Sunday to commemorate Emirati Women’s Day.

The programme, titled Through Her Lens, will feature short works by five Emirati women. The filmmakers are all alumni of the Arab Film Studio documentary and narrative programmes, which are initiatives organised by Image Nation Abu Dhabi.

“Through Her Lens presents narrative, documentary and experimental short films by emerging Emirati female filmmakers whose work revolve around social and cultural issues, and histories from the UAE,” says Dana Al Mazrouei, who oversees the education initiative at Warehouse421.

“More specifically, the films address topics such as placehood and memory and women’s issues, as well as other questions that relate to identity, community and family histories.”

Why is My Grandfather's Bed in Our Living Room? by Sarah Alhashimi, for instance, tells the story of an Emirati family who have lost their ancestral home to a community modernisation scheme. The film focuses on a century-old wooden bed, which is the only tangible memory they have of the home. It embodies the bittersweet memories the family have of their old home.

Omnia by Amna Al Nowais focuses on a young Egyptian woman who, following a childhood incident, is left questioning what it means to be a girl and to be loved.

Osha’s Gift by Hind Abdullah, meanwhile, tells of a friendship between Emirati artist Ashwaq Abdullah and a young girl by the name of Osha. The two meet during an art therapy session and develop a bond that helps Ashwaq discover a new dimension of art.

Sarah Alhashimi's tells the story of a family whose old bed serves as the only tangible memory of their beloved home. Photo: Warehouse421

Mariam Al Awadhi’s Mum confronts how Emiratis born from mixed marriages are viewed in local society. The film centres on the filmmaker herself, who, after 15 years of bottling her anxiety, begins to voice the uneasiness she felt about her mixed background in Emirati society.

Finally, Thoub by Raihana Alhashmi takes a leap into fantasy. The film features a magical dress, which helps an abused tailor teleport into the world of one of his affluent customers.

A discussion with some of the women will follow the screening. The panel will explore the contributions of female filmmakers in the local and international industries and will also include Makr director Hana Kazim.

“All of them have received accolades and awards for their work,” Al Mazrouei says. “Their work is invested in presenting new and critical ways of investigating, exploring and presenting topics that resonate with communities in the UAE and across the region.

In 'Osha's Gift', Emirati artist Ashwaq Abdullah discovers a new sense of what art means by attending an art therapy session and befriending Osha. Photo: Warehouse421

“The arts ecosystem in the UAE has really flourished and matured in recent years, and we see that youth and younger generations, and especially young women, are finding creative careers more accessible.”

Film is one of those avenues of expression, Al Mazrouei says, and it is an indispensable medium through which audiences can learn about and engage with the experiences of all sorts of groups and communities.

“Film is a meaningful way for artists, like the women in this programme, to make their stories seen and heard, therefore highlighting a range of important social issues, one of them being women’s lived experiences," Al Mazrouei says.

"All the films in this program have female protagonists, further positioning women’s experiences front and center, therefore promoting a more equitable perspective.

“We’ve seen the role of women in the film and media industry grow and expand with the support of creative programs and initiatives like those of Image Nation Abu Dhabi, and our own programs that nurture the work of emerging artists, filmmakers, writers and creatives in general.”

Through Her Lens will take place at 6pm on August 28 at Warehouse421. Entry is free and visitors wishing to attend can register at warehouse421.ae

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