New program by renowned NYU filmmakers commences on October 26 during Abu Dhabi Film Festival

Press Release

New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Film Festival has announced its upcoming program “From New York to Abu Dhabi,” which will feature films by three notable New York University (NYU) community members: Of Many, a documentary short by Linda G. Mills; Watermark, a narrative short by Gail Segal; and Return to the Sea, a narrative short by Alexis Gambis. The program is scheduled to begin at 6pm on Sunday, October 26, during the Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

Of Many by Linda Mills, vice chancellor for Global Programs and University Life and Lisa Ellen Goldberg Professor at NYU, and associate vice chancellor for Admissions and Financial Support at NYU Abu Dhabi explores the tension between Jewish and Muslim students on U.S. college campuses, against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The film focuses on the surprising and transformative relationship between an orthodox rabbi and an imam who serve as university chaplains at New York University, in New York. Through a series of voyages, we witness young religious Jews and Muslims working together to overcome long-standing divides. Timely and humorous, this short documentary offers an inspiring and hopeful narrative, uniting a community around multi-faith dialogue and action. Of Many is executive produced by Chelsea Clinton.

Inspired in large measure by her work in Abu Dhabi, Mills says she wanted to explore the beauty and depth of this unusual friendship and the potential for inspiring others to transcend this seemingly intractable divide. "I was so moved by the myriad ways this imam and rabbi embrace shared values that I felt compelled to tell their story — a story that inspires others to follow in their lead. Given my personal history and connection to Abu Dhabi, it was my dream to bring Of Many to ADFF — I am honored to have been invited."

Watermark by Gail Segal, poet, filmmaker, NYU New York associate Arts professor, and affiliated faculty at NYU Abu Dhabi, features three French siblings who clash over real estate after the death of their father; only in this case, the real estate is memory. Each wants the last word in how the father is remembered. During a road trip to the Empty Quarter of the UAE, tensions rise as insults are exchanged, car keys are misplaced, and the three are nearly lost in the desert.

Segal commented: “When I traveled for the first time to the UAE in 2012, I was certain that I wanted to set a story in this landscape — a narrative film — a story of siblings. An NYUAD research grant made this a real possibility. In May of 2013, my 92-year-old mother passed away. As I experienced, first hand, the territorial nature of my own remembering, the story began to take its shape: three siblings clashing over the real estate of memory after the death of their father.”

Return to the Sea by Alexis Gambis, NYU Abu Dhabi visiting assistant professor of Biology and Film and New Media, tells the story of a young man who sets off on a long and perilous yet healing journey from the mountain to the sea, where he conducts his most ambitious symphony piece ever undertaken. This is the journey through the young man's brain waking up and recovering the ability to detect motion.

Gambis commented: “I was drawn to these themes after visiting the Neuroscience of Language Lab. I then heard about recent discoveries that were made where they were able to map the regions of the brain that control movement and how preliminary studies showed paralyzed individuals regaining the ability to move objects via brain mapping. All this of course intertwined with my experience living and teaching in Abu Dhabi.”