Rafed Alharthi’s Feeding Five Hundred was the only Arab film selected for this year’s Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival.
I was lucky enough to meet the team behind charming Abu Dhabi documentary Feeding Five Hundred - 25 year old TV presenter turned director Rafed Alharthi and twofour54’s head of commercial Khalid Khouri, who produced and funded the project via twofour54’s Creative Lab - at Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival this weekend.
The documentary about an Indian man living in Abu Dhabi who feeds 500 cats on a daily basis in the city, picked up a Special Mention in the Documentary Award category, and holds the honour of being the first Emirati film ever to screen at the festival, as well as the only Arab film selected for the 2013 edition.
Alharti came up with the idea for the project, which shot over three days, after reading an article in Emirati Today. Although it took him a further six months to persuade its protagonist to take part in the documentary.
Both the director and producer were raving about the city of Bristol, which, with its grey skies, higgledy piggedly streets, old colourful buildings, abundance of cyclists and green credentials couldn’t be much further from their home city of Abu Dhabi in the UAE.
I’m not surprised they were impressed. Bristol is by any standard a city literally bursting at the seams with culture, from its numerous festivals, art galleries and museums, to its famous alumni including grafitti artist Banksy and Nick Park (creator of Wallace And Gromit, made at the famous Bristol based Aardman Studios). In cultural terms it is everything Abu Dhabi is striving to be.
Hence why twofour54’s new initiative The Lab - an open space which includes editing and voice recording rooms and can be booked in advance and used for free - sounds exactly like the sort of thing you’d expert to find in… Bristol.
Sarah Cooper is senior writer and feature co-ordinator at Screen International