10th May, 2015


Abu Dhabi: Prominent members of the regional and international film community have come together to judge Image Nation’s first Arab Film Studio Documentary competition. The inaugural judging panel comprises 10 industry experts, including Oscar-winner Davis Guggenheim, director of Image Nation’s highly anticipated Malala documentary; and Anthony Geffen, BAFTA and Emmy-winning documentary producer and director.

Focusing on all aspects of filmmaking, from conception to execution, the judges have the final decision on choosing the winning short film to receive a 50,000 AED filmmaking grant and mentorship for the director from the documentary team at Image Nation.

Anthony Geffen says: “This is my first year taking part in the judging panel for the Arab Film Studio program and I was not only impressed by the quality of the competition, but also by the filmmakers’ efforts to take part in telling the stories of the Middle Eastern region.”

The documentary competition was launched under the Arab Film Studio program at the end of 2014, to differ from the established Narrative competition, building on the experienced filmmaking backgrounds of entrants. The Arab Film Studio was created in 2011 in partnership with Image Nation and twofour54, as a short film competition to discover untapped talent and to give aspiring young filmmakers the tools and knowledge to build a career for themselves.

Alicia Gonzalez, head of training and development at Image Nation said: “The level of prestige from our first judging panel is overwhelming. To have Oscar and BAFTA winning director’s judge your work is a tremendous opportunity for our participants.

“Our competitors this year are extremely talented so our judges have a difficult task in whittling down a shortlist of winners.”

The participants of the first documentary competition come from diverse regional backgrounds – the UAE, Syria, Lebanon, and India – to compete for the prize of Best Documentary Film.

Danielle Perissi, Head of Documentary and Head of Marketing and Communications for Image Nation who is also on the panel says: “I am very excited to be a judge for the first Arab Film Studio Documentary program.  The launch of the program is reflective of Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s commitment to documentary production and we hope it becomes an incubator for both talent and future development.”

The announcement follows the recent news that the Media Zone Authority MZA) will be focusing its efforts on Arab filmmakers and films.

Michael Garin, CEO of Image Nation said: “Our Arab Film Studio competitions have always been an excellent way for filmmakers from the region to get their big break in the industry.

“With our ongoing work with the Media Zone Authority we hope that training and development programs like these will continue to help budding filmmakers in the region reach their potential.”

The award ceremony for the documentary will be hosted by Vox Cinemas, who will also host the upcoming Arab Film Studio narrative ceremony, due to be announced this summer.

The awards ceremony will be held on May 19 at Vox Cinemas, Yas Mall where the final submissions will be screened and the winners announced.

This year’s judging panel:

Scandar Copti, Palestinian filmmaker whose first feature film, Ajami was nominated for the 2010 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.

Danielle Perissi, Head of Documentary and Head of Marketing and Communications for Image Nation.

Sheikha Alyazia bint Nahyan al Nahyan, Emirati artist and daughter of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Minister of Culture, Youth and Social Development.

Mohammed Al Otaiba, Editor-In-Chief of The National and Image Nation board member. Davis Guggenheim, Producer and director of An Inconvenient Truth which won the 2007 Best Documentary Feature Academy Award.

Nassar A. Al Mubarak, Project Manager at the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court and part of the team that produced Every Last Child, Image Nation’s documentary on the polio crisis in Pakistan.

Dana O’Keefe, Cinetic Media sales agent and manager, responsible for facilitating some of the Sundance Film Festival’s biggest acquisitions.

Anthony Geffen, BAFTA and Emmy winning documentary producer and director, formerly with the BBC who now heads Atlantic Productions.

Haitham Zamzam Al Hammadi, Manager of Government Affairs at the UAE Executive Affairs Authority Bader Ben Hirsi, A director, a writer and a producer, he is co-producer of the multi award-winning Iraqi    film Son of Babylon and is currently working on his next feature Little Brides.