15th June, 2016


A Guinness World Record holder and an accomplished children’s author join a group of exciting talents making up the class of 2016

Abu Dhabi, June 07: An exciting selection of promising filmmakers from the UAE have been chosen to undertake the coveted Arab Film Studio Documentary program, the annual short film competition from Image Nation Abu Dhabi, a leading media and entertainment company in the Middle East.

Participants this year include an accomplished director/producer who entered the Guinness World Records in 2012 for the working on a film which featured the most directors working on a moviean Emirati graphic designer; and an accomplished child psychology author, making up a selection of this year’s diverse group of seven students hoping to be crowned winner.

Published children’s author and AFS Docs student Soraya Kellala, who fled Algeria in the late 90’s after political unrest, commented: “The world of the cinema is like a child’s mind – it has no limits and this is what intrigues me. I hope to represent women and children in my films and give the victims of war a voice. I also hope to celebrate multiculturalism and peace that I have found since emigrating to the UAE”.

The six-month AFS Docs course, which is open to participants with a film or journalism background living in the UAE, focuses specifically on the non-fiction field of production. It has three phases and is designed to give participants a 360-degree insight into the lifecycle of a film project. This year’s course will be taught in part by guest lecturer Tom Roberts, the BAFTA Award winner and director of Image Nation’s heart-wrenching documentary Every Last Child.

The course includes practical demonstrations, screenings and roundtable discussions. The goal is to equip the students with skills such as research, pre-production, budgeting, writing, interviewing and editing – all necessary tools for producing a documentary film.

Alicia Gonzalez, Head of Training & Development at Image Nation Abu Dhabi, commented: ”We are very pleased with the high standard of applicants to this year’s AFS Docs program. It is clear that they have a good degree of life experience, a keen interest in worldly topics and most importantly, a passion for storytelling. This should translate into some fascinating final films which we are very excited about”.

AFS Docs is the only dedicated training program in the region to offer invaluable coaching in documentary-making. The final films will be screened at an awards ceremony next year and will be judged by a panel of industry experts. Winner of the Best Documentary award will receive an internship with Image Nation’s documentary department, which is responsible for such high profile productions as He Named Me Malala and As One, a poignant journey of ten children with Autism and their families living in the UAE.

This year marks the fifth successful year of Arab Film Studio, which started with the Narrative short film program in 2012. Since then, the program has added three new competitions, accommodating documentary filmmakers, scriptwriters, and most recently the Young Filmmakers program for Emirati high-school students, created in partnership with NYU Abu Dhabi. To date over 40 students have graduated from AFS, with many going on to win international accolades for their final films and build burgeoning careers in the UAE film industry.

Arab Film Studio underpins the vision of Image Nation to build a successful and sustainable UAE film industry, which ultimately means investment in future talent.

Michael Garin, CEO of Image Nation Abu Dhabi, said: “We have a commitment not just to the film industry but to the UAE as a whole to nurture these inspiring personalities and arm them with the facilities, personnel and support to flourish. We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the past few years and look forward to expanding the program further in the coming years”.

For more information on Arab Film Studio visit