Abu Dhabi

  • Harper’s Bazaar Profiles New York Film Academy Alum Khadijah Kudsi

    Khadijah Kudsi

    Copyright © Harper’s Bazaar Arabia 2017

    With the 14th Annual Dubai International Film Festival coming to a close this December, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia profiled six pioneering female filmmakers from the Middle East, including New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Khadijah Kudsi. The in-depth piece about the six directors not only celebrates their hard work and achievements, but highlights the cultural shift taking place in the 21st Century Middle East, and subsequent progress women have made in playing a larger role in society—including the arts.

    NYFA alum Khadijah Kudsi grew up in Saudi Arabia and was always artistic and interested in storytelling. She told Harper’s Bazaar, “I went to New York Film Academy in Abu Dhabi in 2014. I only meant to go for four weeks, but that turned into eight, which led into a year and then into a whole career. I did a diploma in filmmaking and then I started working on short films and writing.”

    After graduating from the Academy, Kudsi quickly found work for a Chinese television channel. As her career has progressed, Kudsi likes to focus on stories from Abu Dhabi and the Middle East, including one film that’s premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and another currently in production focusing on Dana Al Ali—the first Emirati woman to climb Mt. Everest.

    Kudsi continued, “I think it’s important to have ties to this region and highlight positive stories coming out of it. But it’s not always easy—the funding is hard. As is finding the right producer and managing your time being a mother and a working woman.”

    Festivals in the Middle East have grown in importance as more and more voices from the region are making themselves heard. The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) first launched in 2004 with 76 films and 13,000 attendees. During its initial six-day run, acting legend Omar Sharif was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The festival has steadily grown since then, with over 60,000 admissions to its 2016 event. This year marked the 14th Annual Dubai International Film Festival and presented Lifetime Achievement Awards to Irrfan Khan and Sir Patrick Stewart.

    As the region modernizes and women are being given more and more freedom, their roles in society are becoming more prominent as well. For Middle Eastern women working in the arts, that uphill struggle feels all the more real, considering the industry has been historically unequal not just in the region but around the world. Kudsi told Harper’s Bazaar, “I have four children, whereas most of the crew you work with on set are single or have no kids. They don’t understand when you say you need to wrap by a certain time because I need to go see my kids.”

    The New York Film Academy strives to give filmmakers and artists of all kinds a voice, and prides itself on its diverse student body. By learning and working hands-on together, students find their differences are a strength—learning and sharing experiences not just from the school but from one another. If you’re interested in filmmaking or the visual arts, you can find more information about NYFA’s programs here.

    NYFA has committed itself to giving aspiring storytellers in the Middle East an education they can build their careers on. The New York Film Academy is thrilled to see Khadijah Kudsi recognized for her inspiring work and career, and looks forward to the stories she will tell in the years to come. “I love the rawness in the stories here,” professed Kudsi, “and we have so much to talk about.”


    December 27, 2017 • Abu Dhabi, Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1264

  • NYFA Alum’s Latest Is Official Selection at the LICFF 2017


    “Lasting Silence,” a new short film by New York Film Academy alumnus Farhan Abbas, is an Official Selection at the 9th Annual Lahore International Children’s Film Festival. Abbas graduated from NYFA’s Evening Digital Filmmaking Workshop in September 2011 while in Abu Dhabi.

    Lasting Silence #LICFF

    Lasting Silence

    The LICFF was founded in 2008 and has continued annually, presenting the best of local and international films by, for, and about the children of Pakistan. It is the largest children’s film festival in Pakistan, and showcases its selections across the country from October throughout December.

    Additionally, the LICFF promotes children as filmmakers, training them in the art of filmmaking and giving them an outlet to exhibit their work. According to their threefold mission statement, this furthers their goal to nurture and inspire local filmmakers to produce more content specifically for children in Pakistan.

    “Lasting Silence,” a nine-minute short directed by Abbas, who also worked on its screenplay with writer Mubashir Ali Zaidi, will screen across Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital city, starting October 30.

    New York Film Academy extends our warmest congratulations to Farhan and to the great work being done by the LICFF!


    October 17, 2017 • Abu Dhabi, Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 888

  • NYFA Seeds in Abu Dhabi Blossom at Dubai International Film Festival


    The New York Film Academy’s Emirati students have reached the highest number of films accepted into the prestigious Dubai International Film Festival 2015.

    More than 10 as crew members with 5 directors and actors had their 5 films into the official selection MUHR EMIRATI this year.

    All of them have completed their study at the New York Film Academy in Abu Dhabi and had the opportunity to learn in the most hands-on program in the world, with the great faculty coming from Los Angeles and New York carrying an international experience in the film industry.

    We encourage you all to attend and watch their films at the festival. The films’ briefs are below:

    ZINZANA – Feature film directed by Majid Al Ansari: Trapped in a prison cell (“Zinzana”) in a remote police station, a man named Talal is tortured by visions of his beloved ex-wife and son as he waits to hear his fate. When officer Daban from a neighboring town stops by, Talal watches as the friendly visit suddenly turns into a bloodbath. Being behind bars is now the least of Talal’s problems, as he is forced to play a madman’s game to save his family’s lives.

    ABDULLAH – Feature film directed by Humaid Al Suwaidi, Cast: Fatima AlTae: The film tells the story of an Emirati boy (Abdullah) who develops a fascination with music from an early age but struggles to hide that over the years from his very conservative family where many things are “haram.”

    GOING TO HEAVEN – Feature film directed by Saeed Salmeen: From Abu Dhabi to Fujairah, young Sultan sets off on an extraordinary journey as he seeks out his grandmother. Sultan, who has dreamt of the warmth of her love, is determined to reunite with an absent grandmother so that he can escape the bitterness of life. Accompanied by his friend, Sultan’s trip will unravel surprises and exuberant emotions.

    BESHKARA – Directed by Abdulrahman Al Madani, thesis film: telling a story of the caretaker of a cantankerous, dependent Emirati grandmother must return to the Philippines, once she finds out that her daughter is terminally ill. However, the grandmother refuses to let her travel because a deep reason we discover at the end of the film.

    THE MAN WHO MET THE ANGEL Directed by Tariq Al Kazim, Cast: Assem Kroma: Between reality and imagination, truth and lies, certainty and delusion, Daniel will have to prove to others that he has met an angel.

    We wish them best of luck in the competition, and hope you will have the opportunity to watching them all!


    December 10, 2015 • Abu Dhabi, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4283

  • NYFA Abu Dhabi Student Awarded at SICFF for “Ice Flower”



    His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Kassimi, member of the Supreme Council and the governor of sharjah, awarded New York Film Academy student Shirin Abu Ouf for her documentary Ice Flower, during the Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival 2015. The festival, which began on October 21st in the United Arab Emirates, focuses on educating children and youth on the value of cinema, while nurturing their creative impulses and talents for filmmaking. SICFF showcased 78 films from 32 countries, including films from UAE, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and the Far East.

    Ice Flower was Shirin’s final film of her One Year Filmmaking program at NYFA Abu Dhabi. After completing her first year in Abu Dhabi, Shirin moved to NYFA Los Angeles campus to continue her studies in the Bachelor of Fine Art in Filmmaking degree program.

  • NYFA Abu Dhabi Student to Screen at Malmo Arab Film Festival

    One-Year Filmmaking student from New York Film Academy Abu Dhabi, Latifa Assade, recently had her first semester film accepted into the Malmo Arab Film Festival MAFF short film corner in Sweden.

    The film, Seeking Justice, is a story about Hannah, a divorced single mother who is arrested and accused of child abuse. Her son, Jason is given to the father (Richard) until all investigations have been conducted by the authorities. Tension builds as Hannah fights to get her son back, accusing her ex-husband of revenge. As the pressure increases in a custody battle, Hannah is unable to contain her rage. In the end, a court room breakdown reveals Hannah’s true nature.

    Latifa is in now in her second semester of the One-Year Filmmaking course, and she is currently considering the pursuit of her Master’s degree at NYFA Los Angeles.

    We wish Latifa the best of luck at MAFF, and in her further studies at NYFA!


    September 17, 2015 • Abu Dhabi, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3322

  • Mohamed Luqman Wins Best Aspiring Filmmaker Award at ZUMEFF

    mohamed luqman

    film director Mohamed Luqman and co-director Saleh Bin Hallabi receiving the Award from the Acting Provost of Zayed University Marilyn Roberts and the Managing Director of NYFA Abu Dhabi Imad DeirAtany

    Under the patronage of Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Bint Khaled Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation and Development, President of Zayed University, the 6th edition of Zayed University Middle East Film Festival (ZUMEFF) took place on May 17 – 18 at Zayed University Abu Dhabi.

    The Awards Ceremony was held on May 18 at 6.30 pm, where the New York Film Academy offered the Aspiring Filmmaker Award in collaboration with the festival.

    The award went to The Final Chapter by Mohamed Luqman, who will join one of the New York Film Academy filmmaking programs. The program will provide him with intensive training in filmmaking, where he will write, shoot, direct and edit number of films while crewing on others.

    Congratulations to Mohamed Luqman! We’re looking forward seeing him on our set.

    -Imad DeirAtany



    May 19, 2015 • Abu Dhabi, Filmmaking • Views: 3626

  • Emirati Graduate Directs First Feature “Abdullah”



    Given the various locations of the New York Film Academy all over the world, often students have the opportunity to explore multiple locations while studying for a certificate or degree. Former AFA Filmmaking student Humaid Alsuwaidi studied his first year in Abu Dhabi and moved to Los Angeles to complete his degree his second year.

    Since his graduation, Alsuwaidi has been hard at work on his first feature film Abdullah, which he directed with fellow NYFA students, including:

    • Jack Elliott: Director of Photography
    • Fatima Al Taei: Main Actress
    • Malik Zenger: Gaffer
    • Shih-Yao Huang: Key Grip
    • Aiham Alsubaihi: 1st AC
    • Effendi Edris: Cam Op
    • Stuart Matthews: Grip

    His film tells the story of an Emirati boy (Abdullah) who develops a fascination with music from an early age, but struggles to hide that over the years from his very conservative family—where many things are “haram- forbidden/prohibited.”

    Alsuwaidi shot the film in the emirates of Ajman, north of UAE, despite all of the difficulties in location and funds. The task of finding the right crew came naturally, as he found NYFA alumni are the best to work with, as they have a high standard of understanding the demands of a film production.

    Humaid’s risk paid off, and he feels very satisfied on the results of his production. He is currently in the middle of post-production.

    We look forward to viewing the finished product!


    April 30, 2015 • Abu Dhabi, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4500

  • NYFA Abu Dhabi Student’s Script Accepted to Oscar Library



    The New York Film Academy Abu Dhabi is pleased to announce that one of its 8-Week Filmmaking students, Arkus, has had his script Pink accepted into the Oscar Library, and the short Arabic film he created from the script has already screened at more than 10 international short film festivals around the globe.

    Pink is a story of Khadijah, a middle aged Arabic woman suffering from depression and low self-esteem after her divorce. The divorce has scarred her and led her to believe that she is no more attractive. Therefore, she begins a quest to look beautiful once again.



    “I am honored that Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences popularly known as the Oscar library has accepted the screenplay of Pink,” said Arkus. “It gives me a great sense of joy to know that my screenplay will share a room with some of the best screenplays in the world.”

    Arkus describes the New York Film Academy Abu Dhabi as his second home.

    “I had amazing teachers and staff who took the pain to guide me even after the lectures at pretty odd hours, and my batch mates who made extra efforts to ensure that the film is what it is today. Specifically for the screenplay — maximum credit goes to my two teachers, Norman B. Schwartz and Scott Hartmann, who poured their heart out. I just feel that if I would have listened to them more, the screenplay would have been better.”

    Arkus continues to screen his film at festivals around the world. After making Pink, Arkus teamed up with a few close friends to create a paper-cut stop motion animated short film Dubai LoveScape, which screened at Dubai International Film Festival, 2014.

    He is also working on a feature film script, which he hopes to find the right sponsors who can someday make it a reality.


    March 31, 2015 • Abu Dhabi, Filmmaking, Screenwriting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4817

  • NYFA Abu Dhabi Graduate Shortlisted for $100,000 Prize


    SaeedSwiss luxury watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen and the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) have announced the three shortlisted projects in the line-up for the $100,000 prize for the third annual IWC Filmmaker Award.

    We’re proud to announce that one of our New York Film Academy Abu Dhabi filmmakers, Saeed Salmeen Al Murry, is one of three in the running for the $100,000 with his film, Going to Heaven. His film surrounds the life of Sultan, an 11-year-old boy, who is longing for the tenderness of his late yet ever-present grandmother. Sultan likes keeping colored fish, as they help him to escape the loneliness and suffering inflicted on him by his stepmother.

    The three projects in development will be assessed by a jury of film industry experts, who will consider the scripts and the overall potential of the projects.

    “We are delighted to partner with the Dubai International Film Festival to bring the IWC Filmmaker Award to the Gulf filmmaking community for a third year,” said Karoline Huber, Brand Director of IWC Schaffhausen Middle East & India. “Over the course of the past two editions, we have had the privilege of meeting some of the Gulf’s most prominent and up-and-coming filmmakers who introduced us to unique and captivating stories from the region. Witnessing their visions come to life has been an extremely rewarding and fascinating experience, and we are looking forward to further contributing to storytelling in the region.”

    Saeed has already directed a number of acclaimed films, including Bint Mariam (2008), which won both local and international awards, including Best Emirati Filmmaker at DIFF in 2008.


    November 6, 2014 • Abu Dhabi, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3366

  • NYFA to Award Two Scholarships at Abu Dhabi Film Festival

    abff 2014

    NYFA Provost, Michael Young at ABFF 2014

    The New York Film Academy in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2014 will be offering two scholarships to UAE nationals under the short film competition. The “New York Film Academy – Abu Dhabi Aspiring Filmmaker Awards” were open to the Student Narrative and Student Documentary competitions. The 8th edition of the festival is currently running until November 1st and the winners will be announced on that date.

    The two winners will be enrolled at NYFA into a course that provides the students with the opportunity to write, shoot, direct and edit a number of films, as well as crew on their colleagues’ films.

    At the opening ceremonies of the ADFF, producer Ed Pressman was honored with a lifetime achievement award. Ed Pressman has produced more than fifty films, including City Hall, Wall Street and Bad Lieutenant. In his acceptance speech, he referred to “inquisitive and intelligent students” he met at his ISB Expo workshop as “illustrating to him that there is a bright future for film in the UAE.” Many of the students he was referring to were students from the New York Film Academy Abu Dhabi, who attended the event with their instructors Scott Hartmann and Lars Myrvang.

    The NYFA team had the opportunity later in the evening to introduce Mr. Pressman to Ayham Subaihi, one of the NYFA students in attendance.

    “It was a very proud moment for both NYFA students and faculty, hearing this reference in Ed’s speech,” said Artistic Director of NYFA Abu Dhabi, Allan Nicholls. “We wish all participants good luck and look forward to welcoming them at the Abu Dhabi campus in Jan 2015.”


    October 27, 2014 • Abu Dhabi, Community Highlights • Views: 4053