'Athel': Emirati short film in the global spotlight after winning two awards

The film by Sheikha Alyazia bint Nahyan Al Nahyan adds a new twist to the story of pre-Islamic poet Tarafa

'Athel', by Alyazia bint Nahyan Al Nahyan, adds a new twist to the story of pre-Islamic poet Tarafa. Courtesy Mad Solutions 
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A short film by Emirati filmmaker Sheikha Alyazia bint Nahyan has garnered considerable attention at film festivals around the world, receiving two awards and a handful of accreditation badges.

Entitled Athel, the film tells the story of a TV presenter, Salma, who films a poetry show about the pre-Islamic poet Tarafa. A sandstorm disrupts the shoot and sends Salma to a surrealist landscape.

The film locally premiered at Nation Towers in Abu Dhabi on Monday, August 31. It was produced by Toaster Productions and Anasy Media. The film's cast include renowned Egyptian actress Hala Shiha, who previously starred in the 2006 romantic-comedy Kamel El-Awsaf, and Emirati artist Mansour Alfeeli.

'Athel' locally premiered at Nation Towers in Abu Dhabi on Monday, August 31. Mad Solutions
'Athel' locally premiered at Nation Towers in Abu Dhabi on Monday, August 31. Mad Solutions

Athel recently received the Outstanding Achievement Certificate at the Berlin Flash Film Festival, a monthly online festival that celebrates short films and scripts, giving the filmmakers a creative platform to voice their art. Al Nahyan's film also won the Gold Remy Award at the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival in the US.

It was also officially selected at five international festivals, including the Madrid International Film Festival in Spain; the Toronto International Nollywood Film Festival (TNIFF), where the film received an award nomination; and festivals in Vienna and Amsterdam.

The film, much like Sheikha Alyazia’s works as an artist, reflects her love of connecting culture with history, which is a key theme in her work.

Sheikha Alyazia had her first ever solo exhibition in the UK in June 2019, showing a collection of 23 of her artworks at the Pi Artworks in London's Fitzrovia. The exhibition, dubbed I Met a Traveller from an Antique Land, took its name from a line from Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley's 1818 work Ozymandias.