Short films focusing on equality, tolerance and volunteering bag awards

Mansour Bin Mohammad Short Film Award encourages the youth to produce films that highlight social issues

Dubai: Three short films depicting discrimination against women based on their looks, volunteers sewing scraps to make clothes for the needy, and a young man’s pursuit of happiness bagged the top prizes of this year’s Mansour Bin Mohammad Short Film Award on Wednesday.


Under the patronage of Shaikh Mansour Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairman of the Higher Committee for the Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Short Film Award targets the youth to produce films highlighting social issues to raise community awareness on human rights.

The third season of the award organised by Dubai’s Community Development Authority (CDA) focused on three categories: Tolerance and Moderation, Combating Discrimination and Equality, and the Volunteer Culture.

Abdul Karim Julfar, CDA director-general, said the categories were based on some of the values of the UAE’s Founding Father, Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, in time for the Year of Zayed.

“The founder of this country, Shaikh Zayed, had so many values and three of the values he had are the focus of this awards. This is the Year of Zayed, so we want to make sure the community will also embrace his values,” Julfar told Gulf News.

Eynas Orabi’s ‘Visual Effects’ won the first prize in the ‘Combating Discrimination and Equality’ category. Orabi said women are accorded equal rights in the UAE and are doing well in society, but there are some employers who sometimes reject “regular looking” women in favour of a more “dolled-up” jobseeker irrespective of their qualifications.

“A lot of people I know have experienced this kind of discrimination when looking for a job. Some of them are hijabis, some are not. The first [criterion] is how you look like and what you accomplished in your life is [often] secondary,” Orabi, 23, told Gulf News.

“I believe my film will put a spotlight on what a lot of people are ignoring right now so I feel, I believe the first step of solving any problem is to realise that it is happening.”

Maitha Al Shamsi, CEO of the Human Rights Sector at CDA, said Orabi’s short film could help change some people’s perspective, especially individuals who discriminate.

“There might not be a systematic discrimination with regard to appearance but it might be that an individual person who’s [doing it],” Al Shamsi said.

“The whole objective of the short film is to create this awareness on the issues that people might face in society. Hopefully by creating that awareness, we also start helping people to change,” she added.

Sandhya Ramachandran and Aarti Trikannad’s short film titled ‘Doing Your Bit’ won first prize in the Volunteering Culture category. The duo filmed a volunteer organisation that collects scrap textiles and sews them into something useful for the needy.

“In Dubai, people buy a lot of clothes, people buy a lot of things in general and they don’t think before they buy new ones and dispose things quickly so it felt like this is a relevant topic in Dubai,” Ramachandran, a part-time faculty in filmmaking, told Gulf News.

Trikannad agreed and said teens with spare time after school can use their free time for the good of others. “If people volunteer and do their bit, it will make a difference in society.”

Syrian expatriate Abdullah Malek’s film ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ with Ahmad Al Zarouni zoomed in on the UAE being home to more than 200 nationalities. “That’s the real meaning of happiness — it’s the feeling that you’re home and you’re safe,” Malek said.

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