On the set of FromATo Be with Emi­rati di­rec­tor Ali Mostafa

Emirates Man - - CONTENTS -

Emi­rati film­maker Ali Mostafa’s 2009 de­but film Ci­tyOfLife showed life in Dubai with un­flinch­ing can­dour. Cam­eras are now rolling From AToB , a com­edy drama that sees three friends mark the an­niver­sary of a close friend’s death with a road trip from Abu Dhabi to Beirut

How’s the shoot go­ing?

Re­ally well. Like any pro­duc­tion there are ups and downs, but if the au­di­ence has half the fun watch­ing it as we’re hav­ing mak­ing it, this should be a great lm.

Where did in­spi­ra­tion for From A To B come from?

I al­ways wanted to make a road movie. Watch­ing a road movie is a form of es­capism. Of­ten we want to go on these road trips our­selves but never get a chance to, so it’s nice to see other people do it in a lm. I thought the jour­ney from Abu Dhabi to Beirut would be very ex­cit­ing, both ge­o­graph­i­cally and cul­tur­ally.

Will you make the jour­ney your­selves to shoot the film?

No. Mak­ing a lm is all about cheat­ing. That’s the name of the game. We’re shoot­ing most of the lm in Abu Dhabi and the rest in Jordan and Le­banon.

Tell us about your back­ground.

My fa­ther is Emi­rati and my mother is Bri­tish. I was born in Lon­don and grew up in Dubai. I re­turned to the UK to study at Lon­don Film School, but have been liv­ing in Dubai since.

How much does your own life in­form your films?

The best form of lm­mak­ing is to work on sub­jects you know re­ally well. A lot of my char­ac­ters and scenes are based

on my own ex­pe­ri­ence. As a lm­maker you have to do that.

What is the big­gest chal­lenge of mak­ing films in the UAE

The main chal­lenge has been get­ting fund­ing. My first film City Of Life was re­leased four years ago, and it’s taken me this long to make an­other one. To make lms here, rst we need a lm in­dus­try. Now we have pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies like Im­age Na­tion and twofour54 [back­ers of From A To B], it’s look­ing a lot more pos­i­tive. This year alone, there are three fea­tures lms be­ing worked on.

Is it more chal­leng­ing to make a film in UAE

Yes, but the cen­sors are be­com­ing more open-minded in terms of the topics they per­mit. At first it was very dif­fi­cult. We had to re­ally think about what we could say. Now we have a lit­tle bit more cre­ative free­dom, and it’s go­ing to get bet­ter with time. The cen­sors are start­ing to un­der­stand that a fea­ture film is only a movie, not a doc­u­men­tary.

Did you face any of those prob­lems with City Of Life?

City Of Life was about the per­sonal con icts of in­di­vid­u­als, not about the UAE. I wasn’t say­ing that ev­ery­one in Dubai goes out club­bing and drink­ing. The lm at­tracted con­tro­versy be­cause it was the rst time UAE na­tion­als were por­trayed in that light. It was some­thing new and people found that hard to digest. Now people are start­ing to un­der­stand the power of lm to ben­e­fit so­ci­ety. From A To B is a lot more open than City Of Life, yet it took a year to get ap­proval on the City Of Life script, and only a week for FromAToB. One critic de­scribed City Of Life as soul­less as the city in which it un­folds”.

How would you re­spond to that?

It’s hard to hear that the city you grew up in is soul­less. Dubai gets a lot of bash­ing for be­ing fake and arti cial, just be­cause we have some fan­tas­tic ar­chi­tec­ture.

In the 1949 film The Third Man, Or­son Welles’ char­ac­ter says: “In Italy they had war­fare, ter­ror, mur­der and blood­shed, but they pro­duced Michelan­gelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Re­nais­sance. In Switzer­land they had broth­erly

What’s beau­ti­ful about the UAE is we are chang­ing so fast cul­tur­ally. That brings a very in­ter­est­ing view in terms of art

love and peace, and what did that pro­duce? The cuckoo clock”. Do you think the UAE need a war or revo­lu­tion be­fore it can start to pro­duce art?

I don’t think so. What’s beau­ti­ful about the UAE is we are chang­ing so fast cul­tur­ally. We have a strong her­itage of our own that is mix­ing with other races com­ing into the coun­try. That brings a very in­ter­est­ing view in terms of art.

Do you see a time when the UAE can com­pete with other great cin­ema na­tions

With­out a doubt. It’s go­ing to hap­pen sooner than ex­pected.

Which di­rec­tiors have most in­spired you?

I grew up watch­ing lms like ET, Jaws and In­di­ana Jones, so Steven Spiel­berg has al­ways been an in­spi­ra­tion. Also di­rec­tors from the Arab world like Moustapha Akkad, God rest his soul, who made The Mes­sage About The Life Of [theprophet] Mo­hammed [PBUH]. FromAToB will be in cin­e­mas by the end of 2014

Which ac­tors would you most like to work with?

The one ac­tor I re­ally wanted to work with was Philip Sey­mour Hoff­man. I’d also love to work with Anthony Hop­kins. In terms of ac­tresses, I think Cate Blanchett is phenom­e­nal. I met her and she is an amaz­ing per­son, so I can imag­ine what it would be like to work with her.

If Hol­ly­wood pro­duc­ers started call­ing, would you move to LA

I’d go there to shoot a movie, ab­so­lutely. Then I’d come back. Dubai is where my heart is.

Ali Mostafa on lo­ca­tion shoot­ing FromAToB


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