Wor­thy of the hon­our

Emi­rati direc­tor Ali F Mostafa is ex­cited his new film is the first Arab movie to screen in 4DX – but ad­mits he has never ex­pe­ri­enced the for­mat, writes Chris New­bould

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When Ali F Mostafa’s third movie, The Wor­thy, hits cin­e­mas to­mor­row, it will mark a cou­ple of sig­nif­i­cant mile­stones – for Arab film in gen­eral and Emi­rati cin­ema in par­tic­u­lar. The movie could al­ready rea­son­ably claim to be the first Arab post-apoc­a­lyp­tic thriller to go on gen­eral re­lease, and this week it was an­nounced that it will be the first Ara­bic-lan­guage movie screened in the 4DX for­mat at Vox Cin­e­mas, fea­tur­ing mov­ing seats, smoke, wind and wa­ter ef­fects, and even smells.

Emi­rati direc­tor Mostafa says he is ex­cited at the prospect, though he ad­mits he was largely a by­stander in the de­ci­sion to adapt the movie to 4DX.

“When we first screened the film to the dis­trib­u­tors, Vox, one of them just said: ‘ This would make a great 4DX film’,” he says. Vox chief ex­ec­u­tive Cameron Mitchell clearly agrees. “With so many ac­tion scenes and edge-of-yourseat mo­ments, this is the per­fect film for 4DX,” says Mitchell. “Au­di­ences can ex­pect wa­ter ef­fects such as mist and rain, wind, with a gen­tle breeze or tur­bu­lent storm – they are go­ing to have a truly ex­hil­a­rat­ing time.” To cre­ate the ex­pe­ri­ence, the film was sent over­seas to 4DX spe­cial­ists, who pro­gramme the seat move­ments and ef­fects to match the on-screen ac­tion. Mostafa says he was not fa­mil­iar with the for­mat be­fore dis­cov­er­ing his movie would be adapted. “I must ad­mit, I’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced a 4DX film,” he says. “I was re­ally sur­prised to learn that ap­par­ently ev­ery other film with el­e­ments of ac­tion and so on, they screen in 4DX – and this has been go­ing on for at least a cou­ple of years. “Ap­par­ently they do re­ally well, and au­di­ences love it. But I have to ad­mit it’s some­thing I’ve only re­ally ex­pe­ri­enced at a fun­fair with the kids.” Mostafa now finds him­self in the un­usual po­si­tion for a direc­tor of pre­par­ing to present a movie in a for­mat he has not ex­pe­ri­enced to the au­di­ence dur­ing a pri­vate 4DX pre­view tonight – which means it will be a first for both Mostafa and the au­di­ence. “I ’ m doubl y e xci t ed be­cause not only is it the first Arab film to get the 4DX treat­ment, but it will also be the f irst 4DX film I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced when I watch the pre­view,” he says.

“I wish I could see it sooner – I’m in­tro­duc­ing the fi lm, so I’d re­ally like to know what it’s like in 4DX first, but I’m go­ing to find out with every­one else. It sounds fun, though, like a whole new ex­pe­ri­ence of watch­ing a movie.

“It’s an­other land­mark for Arab cin­ema, and for my­self too I guess. It’s a pretty cool land­mark to have.”

The re­lease of the film in Mostafa’s home coun­try marks the end of a long jour­ney to the screen, from the ini­tial an­nounce­ment at the Dubai In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val in 2014 and the un­veil­ing of the first trailer at the same event a year later, to its world premiere at the Lon­don Film Fes­ti­val last Oc­to­ber and the re­gional premiere at Diff in De­cem­ber.

Mostafa ad­mits there is a bit­ter­sweet side to the re­lease.

“It’s an amaz­ing feel­ing, but there’s al­ways these con­cerns as a direc­tor that if the first week­end doesn’t do well, then it won’t trickle down,” he says.

“I’m sure ev­ery­body that goes to see it, 4DX or not, will en­joy it. Every­one I know who has seen it has en­joyed it, whether they’re fans of the genre or not. They’ve walked away with an ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It had a tremen­dous screen­ing in Lon­don, we had a crazy screen­ing at Diff where peo­ple were ap­plaud­ing dur­ing the movie – so let’s just hope we can keep that go­ing.”

With the door left open for a se­quel, this is an­other rea­son for the direc­tor to hope au­di­ences share his en­thu­si­asm for the movie.

“At the end of the day, the im­por­tance of us mak­ing these movies is that the movies get seen, and I re­ally want to get the mes­sage out there that the film is in cin­e­mas,” he says. Spread­ing the word is clearly par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant to Mostafa fol­low­ing crit­i­cal praise, but dis­ap­point­ing box of­fice re­turns, for his pre­vi­ous movie, road-trip com­edy From A to B. “Un­for­tu­nately, with my sec­ond film I even had some of my clos­est friends ask me, ‘ When’s it re­leas­ing?’ – and it had al­ready been in cin­e­mas for two weeks,” he says.

“I re­ally want to get the mes­sage out there that this is in cin­e­mas, and I prom­ise view­ers that if they go to see it they won’t have a dis­ap­point­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The Wor­thy is in cin­e­mas from to­mor­row. Check out our re­view in to­mor­row’s Arts & Life

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