The Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF) is officially on NYUAD's list of favorite annual events in Abu Dhabi. And as NYUAD and the ADFF grow, so too does the collaboration between them. Like last year, the University's involvement in this year's festival was wide-reaching and varied. Students, faculty, and staff volunteered and attended screenings, and NYUAD Professor of Film & New Media Leonard Retel Helmrich took home the Best Documentary award for his film, Position Among the Stars.
Throughout the ten-day festival, the NYUAD community did a good share of the volunteer work — in total, approximately 100 students, faculty, and staff helped in the festival's various departments. Lan Duong, NYUAD Class of 2014, a volunteer at the Hospitality Desk, decided to get involved after she felt the "electrifying" atmosphere at the festival last year. "I loved my volunteer job," she said. "I had to make sure that guests, filmmakers, and actors got wherever they needed to be on time. Oh, and I was also the 'bank of information,' answering all sorts of questions." Students like Duong were most appreciated by ADFF Volunteer Manager Bianca Arkeen. "It is always great to have enthusiastic students on a clear career path, because the work ethic and highly driven attitude help much for the various departments students worked with during the festival," she said.
In addition to volunteer work, NYUAD students — mostly film majors — attended panels and master classes during the festival. "This was a great learning and networking opportunity for them," said NYUAD Professor Dale Hudson. "And they were the ones who asked some of the toughest questions at the panels — especially in terms of the development of the local production. I don't know if the speakers even expected these questions!"
Having been involved in much of the collaborative work between NYUAD and the festival, Hudson hopes to expand the University's presence even further. "Prospects for future work together seem promising," he said. "We are working with ADFF on creating more projects for the students not only during the festival, but throughout the whole year."
In addition, the ADFF announced the SANAD Emirati funding initiative for students from Gulf countries. "SANAD offers pre-productional and post-productional support of the films," Hudson explained. "SANAD's goal is to develop local filmmaking not only by letting the filmmakers' voices be heard, but also by nurturing these voices through the SANADLab." And the ADFF's Emirates Film Competition (EFC), which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, includes a student competition open to films with a significant focus on the Gulf. As such, the EFC is looking to support "bold and remarkable projects" from the region. "Who knows?" said Hudson. "We might see a student movie in next year's festival!"