29th October, 2015


Mohammed Saeed Harib, Nawaf Al-Janahi, Ali Mostafa, Majid Al Ansari join judging panel for Image Nation’s Arab Film Studio

Abu Dhabi, Oct 21, 2015: Some of the biggest names in Emirati cinema are coming together to judge the next generation of regional film talent as part of Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s amateur film competition, Arab Film Studio (AFS).

FREEJ creator Mohammed Saeed Harib and directors Nawaf Al Jannahi (Sea Shadow), Ali Mostafa (City of Life, From A to B) and Majid Al Ansari (Zinzana) have joined a panel of industry experts that will crown the winner of the fourth annual AFS competition.

Other judges includes Hollywood Producer Laurie Macdonald of Parkes/MacDonald Productions, Academy Award nominee Scandar Copti, Hyde Park Entertainment Chairman Ashok Amritraj, American actor David Hasselhoff, and past AFS winners Sara Saber, Mohamed Magdy and Fatma Al Daheri.

Harib, who created the region’s first computer animated television series, said: “Arab Film Studio is an incredible opportunity for filmmakers in the region. To be taught by some of the leading industry experts and be given access to the top filmmaking tools in the industry is fantastic – I wish it was around when I was starting out!

“It’s an honor to be judging this year and I can’t wait to see what these participants have come up with.”

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.

AFS teaches all aspects of filmmaking from development to production and culminates with the students producing a seven to 10 minute short film.  The judges will have the final decision on awards, including Best Film, which includes a money-can’t-buy prize – an internship with Image Nation.

Alicia Gonzalez, Head of Training and Development at Image Nation said: “This year’s finalists are some of the best film students we have had as candidates. They have been through a rigorous process, with intense boot camps and training to give them to tools to create their first short film. The judges have a tough time ahead of them picking the winners.”

This year also saw the Arab Film Studio program expand with a new subdivision to give filmmakers in the region further opportunities to hone their skills. Arab Film Studio Docs launched earlier this year and crowned Emirati filmmaker, Amena Al Nowais, the winner. Since winning, Amena has been working on some of Image Nation’s biggest projects, including Davis Guggenheims’ He Named Me Malala – set for theatrical release in the UAE November 5.

Michael Garin, CEO of Image Nation, said: “It’s satisfying to see how much the Emirati film industry has matured in the short few years since launched AFS. We now have a generation of practicing Emirati filmmakers helping to advance and inspire the next generation, which is exactly why we started this programme. ”

The winners will be announced at an award ceremony this November.

Image Nation has also announced that submissions are now being accepted for next year’s competition – AFS 2016. This is open to filmmakers from the UAE – both Emirati and residents – with any level of filmmaking skills.

To apply, participants should film a short 1-3 minute video along with a short story or treatment. For details on how to apply, visit