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Dubai expat's short film makes it to Cannes
April 18, 2015, 1:05 pm

A short film of Dubai, shot entirely on a mobile phone by a UAE resident, will be showcased at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in May. The film “Hello World” by Kamil Roxas is a poetic narrative that puts the spotlight on the rise of a city, its cultural landscape, the people and their stories. It features scenes of the picturesque desert, the Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa and Bastakiya.

With the help of his friends and mentor, Nayla Al Khaja, an Emirati director, Roxas shot “Hello World” using a Samsung Galaxay Note 4 for a period of two weeks. “I was very impressed with the images that I was getting straight from [the phone]. It was exciting to shoot with a 4k resolution from a mobile device,” said Roxas, an expatriate from the Philippines.

“We have been led to believe that filmmaking were for a chosen few – people who went to school to study it, and people who can afford expensive camera gear and equipment. But the reality is filmmaking is for everyone – and we don’t need to be restricted to the type of camera that we make our films with.”

“Hello World” was recently chosen as the winner of “The Reel Dubai” Short Film Contest, a joint project of the Dubai International Film Festival, Samsung Gulf Electronics and the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing  (DTCM). As part of the prize, the winner will enjoy an out-of-competition screening at this year’s Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner (SFC), a networking platform that attracts hundreds of filmmakers every year.

There are usually around 2,000 films registered at SFC every year. In 2014, SFC featured 1,919 short films. Although SFC attendees don’t usually compete for the main prize, film industry professionals say that the Short Film Corner is a great venue for artists to present their works to a huge audience and network with industry experts.

“As a filmmaker, your dream is to see your film evoke emotions in people and hopefully inspire them. Kamil will have the amazing opportunity to showcase his film at the [festival] to a very diversified international audience and gain access to many industry professionals,” said Khaja. Launched in February 2015, the Reel Dubai competition invited filmmakers from all over the country to produce films about Dubai, paying tribute to its diverse and vibrant environment.

Six filmmakers participated in the project and were assigned “mentors” who are experts in the film industry. Each of the participants received a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and $5,000 cash to fund the making of their film. A freelance director/cinematographer who has been in Dubai for the past several years, Roxas said it did not take long for him to decide on the theme of his film.

“I admire how the city is always full of stories, it’s never uneventful, and there are still a lot of strangers you meet everyday that turn out to be world-class makers or artists, performers, or just different eccentric characters. The city resembles a community of like-hearted people who are always curious, and always sharing their stories – and so it was never really that hard to find that inspiration in producing my film.”

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