Gulf News


Meet the young Emirati filmmaker who is fulfilling his childhood dreams

- By Kelly Crane Staff Reporter

Move over Spielberg, there’s a new kid on the block! Mustafa Abbas, 22, had dreams of becoming a filmmaker since the tender age of 12. But by his own admission even he didn’t expect he’d be making his name before his 25th birthday.

The young Emirati writer/director has already scooped Best Non-Documentar­y Film at the annual Emirates Film Competitio­n, had his latest movie aired at Cinestar, Mall of the Emirates, and is now waiting with bated breath to find out whether his latest offering will screen at the internatio­nally renowned Dubai Film Festival later in the year.

Abbas, who is studying film at the SAE Institute in Knowledge Village, has made eight films in total, one of which — The Alley — was screened at Cinestar this month.

But it was 100 Miles which appears to have really put Abbas on the film map in the UAE, winning him the Dh20,000 top prize at the Emirates Film Competitio­n.

The film is about a young schizophre­nic man who is hired to murder an old rival as punishment for raping a girl, only to discover the man is actually innocent.


As of 2007, he has made eight films, some up to 45 minutes in length. He said: “Originalit­y has always been my goal. Film is my number one passion both as a hobby and as a way of life.”

The majority of Mustafa’s films deal with violence, murder, corruption and death. Tabloid! asked Abbas where he gets his inspiratio­n.

He said: “My films are all made and inspired contrary to my attitudes and personalit­y. It’s strange because my films do not reflect my way of life in any way. In fact I am completely the opposite. Maybe it’s a way of escaping to a life and world so far from my own.

“My main inspiratio­n is definitely people. I do not copy other film-makers or directors. I watch people and the way they behave and it simply amazes me.

“My films are generally violent and usually not for sensitive viewers.”


Some of his trademarks are portraying dark characters in a good light, and using birds for symbolism.

His films are usually set in the present day, but tend to have a 90s and sometimes 80s feel to them.

Aside from being obviously crimebased, they often have a “modern-noir” feel, due to the gritty dialogue and shadowy lighting.

Abbas recalls his earliest memory behind a camera. He said: “I remember it like it was yesterday. One day about ten years ago, my cousins and I were playing and I started to film our antics on a home video camera. I can’t remember the actual story but I do recall there being lots of running, screaming and fighting — as little boys do!

“But even at that age I remember knowing I loved what we were doing. Over the years and months I then just made a conscious effort to make it work.

“My family are very supportive and I am grateful for everything they have done for me. At first it was hard for them to really even understand what I was doing because it isn’t an industry everyone goes into. But I feel like I am making progress and am enjoying the ride along the way.”

Like the film industry in the United Arab Emirates, his name is growing.

 ?? TRACY BRAND/GULF NEWS ?? A scene from 100 Miles.
TRACY BRAND/GULF NEWS A scene from 100 Miles.
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