Meta Film Fest announces line-up for its inaugural event in Dubai

Its approach is decidedly international, with 70 films from across the Middle East, Africa and beyond

Poet and filmmaker Nujoom Alghanem will head a jury of seven judges, handing out awards at the inaugural Meta Film Fest. Photo: National Pavilion UAE
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The inaugural Meta Film Fest, launching in Dubai later this month, has announced a line-up of more than 70 films from 25 countries.

From October 27 to 29, Vox Cinemas at Nakheel Mall on Palm Jumeirah will host the festival’s debut for three days.

Organised by Great Minds Event Management, Meta, originally relating to Middle East, Turkey and Africa but now with a broader focus, has since expanded to include dozens of premieres, including nine worldwide. There will also be 43 screenings shown in the Middle East for the first time, with 12 making their debut in the UAE.

The line-up includes the Emily Bronte biopic, Emily, nominated for awards in Toronto and Sitges, and French feature film Hard Shell, Soft Shell, with nominations at the Beirut International Women Film Festival and Best Feature Film at Buzau International Film Festival.

Other highlights are Iranian dystopian film, District Terminal, which received three nominations at the Berlin International Film Festival, and Holy Spider, which was nominated for the Palme d'Or and other awards at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Leila Masinaei, director of the festival and managing partner at GM Events, says Meta Film Fest is not only a platform to showcase films from the UAE, the region and beyond, but a “catalyst for a larger film industry based out of our home ground in Dubai”.

'District Terminal' by Iranian screenwriters and directors Bardia Yadergari and Ehsan Mirhosseini received three nominations at the Berlin International Film Festival. Photo: Meta Film Fest

Masinaei tells The National that the festival will give local talent access to films they might otherwise never see, as well as a platform to showcase their own work and a chance to collect a festival laurel.

“It always helps to get started on this journey at home. We had over 40 submissions from the UAE, and three short films have made the cut to premiere at the event and run for short film prizes, and this is invaluable. The validation, the experience, exposure, unmatched.”

Despite the local connection, the festival takes a decidedly international approach to its curation, which Masinaei says reflects the diverse nature of UAE audiences. “Dubai is home to over 200 nationalities. It is home away from home for so many people in the world.”

The festival has appointed a selection committee composed of industry experts and critics, to curate a 56-film shortlist of titles from around the world. On October 29, a jury of seven will hand out 10 awards.

Headed by Emirati director Nujoom Al Ghanem, the jury is also composed of Oscar-winning Spanish producer Andres Vicente Gomez, Iranian producer Kaveh Farnam, Iranian actress and director Pegah Ahangarani, Turkish actress Neslihan Yeldan, Marta Svecova Lamperova, the artistic director of this year's Fabiofest in Prague, and Elon D Johnson, head of development at Tyler Perry Studios.

Masinaei says film festivals are a critical part of any cultural space, which is something that Meta hopes to add to. “Art and culture embodies all forms of art, and the most easily transferred form of art is movies and cinema,” she says.

Meta Film Fest will run from October 27 to 29 at Vox Cinemas in Nakheel Mall on Palm Jumeirah, Dubai. More information is at

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Updated: October 07, 2022, 9:34 AM