Joint Possession by Leila Kilani. Courtesy Dubai International Film Festival
Joint Possession by Leila Kilani. Courtesy Dubai International Film Festival

Cannes Festival: Filmmakers branch out from the region to the rest of the world



A select group of accomplished regional directors pitched their work to buyers, film festival organisers and festival heads at the Cannes Film Festival’s UAE pavilion last week.

The 15-minute presentations were part of the partnership between Dubai Film Market and Marché du film, to provide a window into the talent and innovation flying out of the Middle East.

The five films presented were: Joint Possession by Leila Kilani, Susan Youssef's Marjoun and the Flying Headscarf, Poisonous Roses by Ahmed Fawzi Saleh, Until the End of Time by Yasmine Chouikh and Annemarie Jacir's Wajib.

"It's the story of a woman who decides to organise her own funeral. She asks the village gravedigger for help – as the preparations advance, a love story is born between them – and they both rediscover life and love in their journey toward death," said Algerian director Chouikh about Until the End of Time.

Meanwhile, Syrian-Lebanese director Youssef's Marjoun and the Flying Headscarf is a case of steady progress.

"This film, Marjoun and the Flying Headscarf, first started out as my short film while I was a student at the University of Texas. It had its premiere at Sundance in 2006," she said.

“Eleven years later, the story of an adolescent girl in Arkansas who searches for identity in a headscarf and a motorcycle in the aftermath of her father’s imprisonment, has been turned into a feature film.”

Palestinian director Jacir described Wajib as "a drama with comedic elements".

"It's about a father and son relationship starring Mohammad Bakri and Saleh Bakri, the first time they have appeared in a film together – and it all takes place in a day in the Palestinian city of Nazareth." Moroccan director Kilani has produced five documentaries and a feature-length film, On the Edge, in 2011. Her latest work, Joint Possession, is set in the Moroccan hills of Tangier, where new real estate projects have forced the emergence of clandestine shelters called clandos. Mansouria is home to a family who face a heart-wrenching decision on whether to sell the estate worth millions.

The projects are all at different stages of the production process: Jacir has just completed shooting her film, while Youssef and Chouikh’s films still need post-production work.

After her pitch, Chouick said she was pleased to showcase her work at one of the film’s industry most important gatherings. “It represents a lot as it puts the project under the spotlight professionally speaking,” she said.

“It means a lot in term of visibility. Being showcased in the film market gives us opportunities in terms of eventual distributors, and it will also be an opportunity for last-minute fine-tuning as the movie is still in post-production.”

Youssef could not make the journey to Cannes as she recently had a baby.

Her film project was presented by producer Man Kit Lam who showed selected scenes for 10 minutes. “We hope our scenes at Cannes give a sense of our authentic landscape and specificity of our film,” she said.

“To show our clips as part of Dubai Goes Cannes is a serious step forward for our production.”

Jacir, who was in Cannes, said she is confident about her film’s chances of getting more industry support and being watched internationally.

"Wajib's producer is Ossama Bawardi, who has been responsible for many great films coming out of the Arab world in the last two years," she said.

“We already have a sales agent on board – we want to impress distributors and also film festivals. We will be finished with the film by the end of summer.”

artslife@thenational.ae

A Little to the Left

Developer: Max Inferno
Consoles: PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch
Rating: 4/5

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

'My Son'

Director: Christian Carion

Starring: James McAvoy, Claire Foy, Tom Cullen, Gary Lewis

Rating: 2/5

The specs

Engine: 77kWh 2 motors
Power: 178bhp
Torque: 410Nm
Range: 402km
Price: Dh,150,000 (estimate)
On sale: TBC

UAE SQUAD

Muhammad Waseem (captain), Aayan Khan, Aryan Lakra, Ashwanth Valthapa, Asif Khan, Aryansh Sharma, CP Rizwaan, Hazrat Billal, Junaid Siddique, Karthik Meiyappan, Rohan Mustafa, Vriitya Aravind, Zahoor Khan and Zawar Farid.

Dark Souls: Remastered
Developer: From Software (remaster by QLOC)
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Price: Dh199

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

The specs

Engine: 6.5-litre V12
Power: 725hp at 7,750rpm
Torque: 716Nm at 6,250rpm
Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch auto
On sale: Q4 2023
Price: From Dh1,650,000

The new Turing Test

The Coffee Test

A machine is required to enter an average American home and figure out how to make coffee: find the coffee machine, find the coffee, add water, find a mug and brew the coffee by pushing the proper buttons.

Proposed by Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder

Company profile

Name: Maly Tech
Started: 2023
Founder: Mo Ibrahim
Based: Dubai International Financial Centre
Sector: FinTech
Funds raised: $1.6 million
Current number of staff: 15
Investment stage: Pre-seed, planning first seed round
Investors: GCC-based angel investors

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

PROFILE OF INVYGO

Started: 2018

Founders: Eslam Hussein and Pulkit Ganjoo

Based: Dubai

Sector: Transport

Size: 9 employees

Investment: $1,275,000

Investors: Class 5 Global, Equitrust, Gulf Islamic Investments, Kairos K50 and William Zeqiri

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now

Switching sides

Mahika Gaur is the latest Dubai-raised athlete to attain top honours with another country.

Velimir Stjepanovic (Serbia, swimming)
Born in Abu Dhabi and raised in Dubai, he finished sixth in the final of the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the 200m butterfly final.

Jonny Macdonald (Scotland, rugby union)
Brought up in Abu Dhabi and represented the region in international rugby. When the Arabian Gulf team was broken up into its constituent nations, he opted to play for Scotland instead, and went to the Hong Kong Sevens.

Sophie Shams (England, rugby union)
The daughter of an English mother and Emirati father, Shams excelled at rugby in Dubai, then after attending university in the UK played for England at sevens.

Alan Wake Remastered

Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Consoles: PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox: 360 & One & Series X/S and Nintendo Switch
Rating: 4/5

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September

Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales
​​​​​​​Najlaa Khoury, Archipelago Books

Indika

Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Publisher: Odd Meter
Console: PlayStation 5, PC and Xbox series X/S
Rating: 4/5

Where can I submit a sample?

Volunteers can now submit DNA samples at a number of centres across Abu Dhabi. The programme is open to all ages.

Collection centres in Abu Dhabi include:

  • Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC)
  • Biogenix Labs in Masdar City
  • Al Towayya in Al Ain
  • NMC Royal Hospital in Khalifa City
  • Bareen International Hospital
  • NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Ain
  • NMC Royal Medical Centre - Abu Dhabi
  • NMC Royal Women’s Hospital.
Manchester United v Liverpool

Premier League, kick off 7.30pm (UAE)

Turning waste into fuel

Average amount of biofuel produced at DIC factory every month: Approximately 106,000 litres

Amount of biofuel produced from 1 litre of used cooking oil: 920ml (92%)

Time required for one full cycle of production from used cooking oil to biofuel: One day

Energy requirements for one cycle of production from 1,000 litres of used cooking oil:
▪ Electricity - 1.1904 units
▪ Water- 31 litres
▪ Diesel – 26.275 litres

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

Champion v Champion (PFL v Bellator)

Heavyweight: Renan Ferreira v Ryan Bader
Middleweight: Impa Kasanganay v Johnny Eblen
Featherweight: Jesus Pinedo v Patricio Pitbull
Catchweight: Ray Cooper III v Jason Jackson

Showcase Bouts
Heavyweight: Bruno Cappelozza (former PFL World champ) v Vadim Nemkov (former Bellator champ)
Light Heavyweight: Thiago Santos (PFL title contender) v Yoel Romero (Bellator title contender)
Lightweight: Clay Collard (PFL title contender) v AJ McKee (former Bellator champ)
Featherweight: Gabriel Braga (PFL title contender) v Aaron Pico (Bellator title contender)
Lightweight: Biaggio Ali Walsh (pro debut) v Emmanuel Palacios (pro debut)
Women’s Lightweight: Claressa Shields v Kelsey DeSantis
Featherweight: Abdullah Al Qahtani v Edukondal Rao
Amateur Flyweight: Malik Basahel v Vinicius Pereira