30th January, 2017


Students made-up of post-graduates from London Film School and NYU Abu Dhabi amongst others

Image Nation Abu Dhabi, one of the leading media and entertainment companies in the Middle East, welcomes seven brand-new aspiring filmmakers to its renowned annual Arab Film Studio program/competition.


The first competition of the year will cover the narrative discipline where students will learn about what it takes to make a fictional film – before going to create a short film themselves. AFS Narrative is one of four courses under the Arab Film Studio umbrella which also includes Documentary, Scriptwriting in partnership with Dubai Film Market and Young Filmmakers in partnership with New York University Abu Dhabi.


The students joining the ‘Class of 2017’ include several post-graduates from esteemed institutions such as London Film School and NYU Abu Dhabi. However, students do not need any filmmaking experience to take part.


Alicia Gonzalez, Head of Training & Development at Image Nation said: “We are thrilled to welcome this year’s students to the renowned AFS Narrative filmmaking program. Many of the students this year are post-graduates with some experience within media and looking to apply their education to a practical environment. There is no substitute to actually making a film, which is what makes Arab Film Studio so unique”.


Nada El Azhary, 21, from Egypt, from Jordan, is one of the students taking part in AFS Narrative 2017. She graduated from NYU Abu Dhabi with a major in Psychology and a minor in Film and New Media and has since interned on a number of regional productions including Image Nation’s On Borrowed Time and Rashid & Rajab, which were filmed in Dubai and wrapped at the end of 2016.


“Having experienced being on real film sets last year I was completely hooked and knew I wanted to learn more about what it takes to make my own films. I believe Arab Film Studio is the place to find my style and approach to storytelling”, said Nada of joining Arabi Film Studio.


This year marks the sixth consecutive of the AFS Narrative program and five years of Arab Film Studio providing first-class film training within the region.


The short film competition takes finalists on a six-month filmmaking journey that mirrors the real process of developing and producing a film. The multi-disciplinary program starts with a kick-off week in Abu Dhabi, followed by several weeks of mentoring sessions, workshops and assignments. Following this, contestants will take several weeks to prepare and shoot their very own film, where they will gain hands-on experience while being mentored by industry experts.


Every AFS finalist will gain priceless filmmaking experience and screening the film to friends, family and press – but there can only be one winner. One finalist will go home with the Best Film award, and recieve an internship opportunity on a national or international production with Image Nation at the end of the program.


Additionally, the opportunity for the students doesn’t end with AFS, as many of their final films are entered into international film festivals.


In fact, this month AFS films have reached over 100 selections worldwide including Oscar-qualifying festivals such as LA Film Festival, Hot Docs and Melbourne International Film Festival. This includes the AFS Narrative 2016 joint winners Eman Talal Alsayed, 21, UAE and Jafaar Al Madhoon, 25, Bahrain. Previous winners have also gone on to win esteemed film prizes such as the Muhr Emirati Short at the Dubai Film Festival.


Michael Garin, CEO of Image Nation Abu Dhabi praised the filmmaking program: “Last year proved to be a record year for our training and development division and we intend on continuing that success in 2017. The skills the students learn on this program are incomparable and we have received international recognition for the work we are doing to train the talent of tomorrow and build a regional film industry”.


Submissions for the other Arab Film Studio disciplines will be open throughout the year. To keep up-to-date and to learn more about the competition, visit