Lina Younes, founder of Animate Dubai, on what to expect from the region’s first animation festivalss

Animate Dubai is the brainchild of The Animation Chamber, a grassroots organisation and the UAE’s first stop-motion collective and educational initiative that organises workshops, animations, panels and creates tailored programmes for universities, schools and art centres.

A handout photo of Lina Younes (Courtesy: Lina Younes)
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Dubai is preparing to host the region’s first animation festival at d3, Dubai Design District, from December 3 to 5. Animate Dubai is the brainchild of The Animation Chamber, a grassroots organisation and the UAE’s first stop-motion collective and educational initiative that organises workshops, animations, panels and creates tailored programmes for universities, schools and art centres.

Lina Younes, the founder of Animate Dubai and Chamber, explains why the festival, which was to be held in spring 2015, was delayed: “We wanted it to be right and we felt we were pushing too hard to do it too soon. We know better now. We’ll now do it in better weather, closer to Dubai International Film Festival, which is perfect for people to do both, and there are a lot of practical advantages, too.”

The first of these, says Younes, is the space.

“Animate Dubai will be held at Dubai Design District, and we’ll be taking over a huge space for outdoor screenings, indoor screenings, workshops and panels and a film market, so visitors will be able to see every aspect of the industry. d3 was where I always wanted to do it, so it’s been great to achieve that.”

The festival, which attracted more entrants as a result of the extended lead time, received over 1,000 submissions from all over the world. The festival jury will cut these down to around 200 films which will compete in a competition.

“We got a lot more Arab entrants in the second wave, so that’s great,” says Younes. “As for the screenings, in competition we have sections for Arab and student shorts, both regional and international. Out of competition we also have features and commissioned works and television series.”

Guests include Mickael Marin, the Annecy director, who is already confirmed to attend. Younes is planning on bringing some big name animators to town, too, although she’s not yet able to name them.

“I’m trying to bring three big names in, including an Oscar winner, from the United States, Australia and France,” she says. “Also, we hope to have a Lebanese Cannes winner. It’s not about the names though. These are people we know personally and we know are humble and willing to share with genuine love for what they do. But I don’t want us to be too caught up in the Dubai glamour and glitz. We won’t even have a red carpet as we’re all about the animation.”

We want to be really for people who are interested in animation and pushing the industry here. We hope we can help to bridge the huge gap in education and practical know how here. Just the really basic stuff — how do I come up with an idea? Write a script? What do I do when I’m finished? How do I distribute it? What schools should I attend? We want to cover all that and grow the talent we have.

“We can do all this for ourselves in the region, but we need to provide the tools, and we hope this will be a unique opportunity to meet vital people from the region as well as internationally. We’re not going to sit there and talk about the weather, we’re going to talk about things that can really push us forward, and we’re bringing in vital funding from cultural funds like the Goethe-Institut, The British Council, and Alliance Française.”

• The full line-up will be revealed on www.animatedubai.com at a later date

cnewbould@thenational.ae