The film festival was abuzz with a rich mix of people from all kinds of backgrounds and careers: Photographers ran around taking pictures while journalists tried their best to capture interviews with prominent people, including big Hollywood stars such as Colin Farrell and Colin Firth. Radio stations had set up shop at the festival and news reporters were seen reporting live from the scene.
I was selected as a participant for the Young Journalist Award at DIFF this year. University students competing for the award were asked to write for the ‘DIFF Daily’, a newspaper for the festival. I had to pen down a feature story, news story and a review.
It was great to experience the vibrancy of the Film Festival first-hand and on such a personal level. If only for a few days, I felt like an actual Journalist; rushing to meetings, chasing interviews with stars and sagely critiquing movies. I also attended panels on different topics, such as censorship, and political documentaries and interacted with producers, directors and actors.
Aside from giving students like myself a chance to put on our journo hats, there was still plenty to like about the festival itself. It provided an excellent opportunity for upcoming Arab filmmakers to showcase their work. Local producers and directors making their way in the industry were in the spotlight, and took hold of the opportunity to present their films to the people. Emirati filmmakers such as AbdAllah Al Kaabi and Butheina Kaazim stood out amongst the newcomers.
However, the film festival was not simply about entertainment. It also sought to broaden people’s horizons and spread awareness about key issues. One of the aspects of the film festival that I liked the most was that the majority of the films had a theme, key message or issue that was being highlighted. The documentary ‘Presumed Guilty’ focused on the injustices in the Mexican legal system while ‘Prison and Paradise’ provided an insight into the lives of the Bali Bombers.
Encountering the film festival from the inside was an eye-opening experience. It added vastly to my knowledge and introduced me to a range of new concepts and issues. Personally, I loved having the opportunity to live a day in the life of a journalist. In fact, it’s what inspired me to start writing this blog. Next year, I’ll be too old for the young journalist award, but who knows, if I keep writing, I might be closer to being a real-life ‘young journalist’.
Hey, everyone’s got to start somewhere!