Where are the Actors?

Every year I ask this, and here I go again for the third time, “Know any enthusiastic student filmmakers living in the Middle East?”  If so, please let them know about the Zayed University Middle East Film Festival, which brings

ZUMEFF 2011 winners from Eygpt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine

together student films from across the Middle East to reveal an industry in rebirth, as well as a student population living in times that are  a changin’ for better and worse.

At the end of last year’s film festival, we did a ZUMEFF research project and survey of student filmmakers in the region.  We expected them to say the worst trials they face are self censorship, money, poor equipment, little technical expertise.  Some of that did indeed come up in the research.  But the number one obstacle they face–and this was from all the countries that participated–was that they couldn’t find good actors to work with, and the few they could find wanted ridiculous amounts of money just for a student film.  I’m not in Los Angeles anymore.

For more on ZUMEFF visit–submissions deadline is March 15:  www.zumeff.com

or check out this article from one of our constant sponsor and supporter, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival  http://www.abudhabifilmfestival.ae/en/year-round/magazine/2012/01/26/zayed-university-s-middle-east-film-festival


4 thoughts on “Where are the Actors?

  1. The film industry is getting bigger and having a film festival here at Zayed University that is made by students for students is such a great idea. Lots of people are interested in films these days and there are lots of talented student filmmakers around the Middle East.

    I agree, getting people to submit their films is a challenge. Some of the student filmmakers I know are not confident enough to submit their films. They think that “it’s not good enough.” However, motivating them does help a bit. Others, just say “okay,I’ll submit it” and then get busy with other university work and forget about it until someone reminds them to submit.

    Also, to reply on what you said about the filmmakers obstacles, its true in a way because here in the UAE for example, most of the girls are not allowed to be in front of cameras, it’s more of a cultural thing, even thought they are talented actresses. Others are just too shy to be in front of cameras.

    Good luck with ZUMEFF and I hope it would be a success this year as it was in the past years.


    • Films will never be as perfect as the filmmaker wants them to be–that is part of the reality of art. Perfection is not possible. That is not a reason not to share the work, especially if you have done it with integrity and to the best of your ability.


  2. I think I pretty much understand what you’re going through. A lot of producers –mainly in the middle east- face this kind of problem due to a number of factors; some of them are really valid ones like our traditions, others are not so convincing like the fear of failure and not having so much free time to be attached to such a big organization. I just want to say that you are very brave and motivating to establish such a project. I believe that in the next few years we’ll hopefully be hearing about the ZUMEFF everywhere. This kind of project cannot be started without a great deal of courage which I believe you have and I’d really want to thank you on behalf of every person that is going to have the opportunity of his/her life through your program.


    • I didn’t establish the festival: it was with two ZU graduates–Alyazyah Al Falasi and Reema Majed. Fear of failure is definitely not an excuse for students (or anyone, really). Being a student is the time you get to experiment with your ideas without having to be judged by bosses, and every student should take advantage of that.


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