Xposure 2024: Emirati filmmaker traces her trailblazing journey into a male-dominated industry

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SHARJAH, 3rd March, 2024 (WAM) — Emirati filmmaker Nahla Hamad Bin Fahad Almheiri said that we should always seek to transfer knowledge and transmit our experiences in a way that benefits future generations, during her talk “Empowering Female Voices” on Sunday at Xposure International Photography Festival (Xposure 2024) in Sharjah.

In an engaging fireside chat with Dr Abdelsalam Alhammadi of Sharjah TV, the filmmaker recounted how she shattered the glass ceiling in the male-dominated film industry. A leading filmmaker and executive producer from Dubai, Nahla is celebrated for her groundbreaking contributions to the silver screen, which have won her international awards and recognition.

Nahla Al Fahad recalled how she grew up watching a lot of cartoons on television. Although no one in her family was into cinema; her passion for images and direction began with a Kodak camera. “I used to watch 40 films a week and capture numerous images on my camera,” the young director, who is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Media from Derby University, the UK, noted. “I recommend that parents encourage their children, no matter how young, if they show an interest in stories and animation,” she added.

Nahla, who graduated from a Dubai college in Media Marketing and Advertising, first joined video clubs that produced short videos and commercials giving her the foundation for her gradual shift to cinema. The trailblazing Emirati voice believes that universities cannot teach everything and it is the practical experience and self-education that help you hone your skills and talent in the film field. She emphasised that interacting with specialists in a particular field is important, narrating how she overcame her shyness to acquire more knowledge from experts.

Nahla, who went on to produce award-winning movies such as The Tainted Veil which won awards at the International Film Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia and California, said people in the east are keen to know more stories from the Arab world.

Nahla works closely with Shams (Sharjah Media City) and points out that Sharjah is “a city that believed in her”. She has produced numerous videos for awareness campaigns, including during the Covid lockdown years. She pointed out how the first film production for Shams on domestic violence, 218: Behind the Wall of Silence, had won three awards — Best Director, Best Actress and Best Asian Film — at the Amsterdam Film Festival in 2022.

The Emirati director was thrilled to walk through the halls of the Xposure 2024 festival, which houses such a wide variety of creations, observing that it is truly inspiring and motivating for filmmakers like her.

Organised by the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), the exhibition is running from February 28 to March 5 at the Expo Centre Sharjah.