20th October, 2016


The milestone will be celebrated with a special ‘Best of AFS’ screening on November 13th

Abu Dhabi, 11th October 2016: Image Nation Abu Dhabi, a leading media and entertainment company, is celebrating five years of its landmark Arab Film Studio training program in 2016.

Arab Film Studio, which is one of the only dedicated film education resources in the region, has seen almost 70 students from around 17 different nationalities graduate from the program over the past half a decade. Since its inception in 2012 with the AFS narrative film competition specialising in fictional films; Arab Film Studio now includes bespoke programs for documentary filmmakers, scriptwriters and high school students.

Since undertaking the program an impressive majority of students have proceeded to forge a promising career within the film industry, using their time at Arab Film Studio as a springboard to success both locally and internationally.

“One of the core objectives of Image Nation is to support the development of filmmakers in the region so that they can become the foundation of our future film industry. To be able to see how much success has been achieved from students over the past five years is overwhelming and a very proud moment”.

“When we started the program in 2012 we never would have imagined it would have grown into a leading training provider with four dedicated specialisms. Credit must be given to our team and AFS partners who have devoted their time to the training and development of emerging talent”, commented Michael Garin, CEO of Image Nation.

AFS-produced short films and documentary shorts have featured in over 70 different film festivals around the world including the prestigious Hot Docs in Toronto, LA Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival and Dubai International Film Festival. Most recently, a record nine AFS films has been selected to screen at the 16th Beirut International Film Festival, which will screen this month (5-13 Oct).

Colette Naufal, Director of Beirut International Film Festival said of Arab Film Studio: “BIFF were astounded by the high quality of storytelling and production of the Arab Film Studio films, which is why we have chosen nine films to feature in the program this year. It really is hard to believe they have come from amateur filmmakers but we are proud to support emerging talent”.

One such emerging talent is AFS Docs 2015 winner Amna Al Nowais, whose documentary short Omnia has garnered international acclaim and been selected for 21 film festivals, as well as winning five prestigious awards including the ‘Best Muhr Emirati Short’ at the Dubai International Film Festival. Omnia is heartwarming story and follows the personal account of a young Egyptian woman who was affected by the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Omnia director and AFS Docs ’15 winner Amna Al Nowais, commented:“The success of the film at festivals has been great exposure for me as well as for the film’s profile, as it is ultimately a film that can raise awareness. But just to be given the opportunity to make a film in the first place and learn the process has been invaluable and something that I am extremely grateful for. I look forward to seeing what the next phase will bring after festivals”.

Winners of the AFS Narrative & Docs programs receive internships with Image Nation where they can put their training into practice on major productions both regionally and internationally. In addition, winners of AFS Scriptwriting (in association with Dubai Film Market) win a Dhs100,000 development deal to make their screenplay into a film.

Fatima Al Dhahiri was the very first winner of the AFS Narrative course in 2012 and highlights how the Arab Film Studio program has helped her launch her career in the film industry; “Without AFS I never would have been able to realize my dreams of becoming a filmmaker. Winning the overall prize provided me with the confidence and experience to turn my dreams into reality”.

Since the program other AFS participants have gone on to assist on blockbuster film productions such as Brad Pitt’s War Machine (2017) which was locally shot in the UAE, as well as Emmy award-winning Docufilm and Image Nation co-production He Named Me Malala (2015) and Ali Mostafa’s post-apocalyptic thriller The Worthy (2017).

Each arm of the learning program is a multi-disciplinary course spanning several months including workshops, online tutorials and assignments. The course culminates in a film competition which sees students creating their own short film or screenplay based on their course specialism. Final short films are judged by a panel of internationally acclaimed industry experts, which in the past have included Academy Award winner Davis Guggenheim.

Image Nation will be celebrating five years of Arab Film Studio with a special ‘Best of AFS’ film screening on November 13th at #TheLab in Abu Dhabi, which will show all the final films to-date. For more information on Arab Film Studio, visit