release date April 18 2016
Zayed University Middle East Film Festival to Honor Top Five Films in May
Held under the patronage of H.E Sheikha Lubna Bint Khaled Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance and President of Zayed University, the 7th Zayed University Middle East Film Festival (ZUMEFF) will take place on May 1 - 2 at Zayed University headquarters in Abu Dhabi. ZUMEFF is the only festival in the region dedicated to showcasing films for student and by students.

This year, the festival jury received over 160 film submissions from 12 different countries as of last March, which was the deadline set by the University's College of Communication and Media Sciences, that organizes this annual event, for receiving submissions from students of universities, colleges, and high institutes in the UAE, Gulf, and the Arab region. The festival also receives submissions made by Arab students residing abroad, on the condition that they are enrolled or were enrolled in the aforementioned educational institutions the past year. Recently, 16 out of 50 films were shortlisted to move on to the final round.

The ZUMEFF jury also posted more details about the 16 shortlisted films and their screening times on the festival's official website: This year's industry judges will be Emirati Director Majid Al Ansari (Zinzana or Rattle the Cage), Film Analyst Alaa Karkouti and CEO of MAD Solutions and Arab Cinema Center, Butheina Kazim Emirati Filmmaker and Co-founder of Cinema Akil, as well as John
Kochanczyk, Producer and Sound Editor at Mile Studios.

The 16 shortlisted films were submitted from seven countries: Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Iran, Jordan, and UAE.

The jury will choose the Best of the Best, Best Narrative Film, Best Animation and Best Documentary Film, in addition to the twofour54/ZUMEFF Aspiring UAE Filmmaker Award. The five winners will be recognized and honored during an awarding ceremony that will take place at Abu Dhabi campus on May 2nd at 6:30 pm. Each prize in the aforementioned categories is estimated at AED 25,000.

"ZUMEFF plays an important role in the exchange of ideas and approaches to filmmaking between the UAE and the students of ZU and international, especially regional, submissions. The submissions this year were marked by a strong sense of sociopolitical preoccupation on the one end of the spectrum and a deep introspective perspective on the other end. The selected films exhibited beginnings of many stronger future projects to come," says Butheina Kazim.

Majid Al Ansari says, "I am so honored to be part of this year's ZUMEFF Jury. The festival is a great platform to recognize the future generation filmmakers from the Arab world."

"We are very happy with more than 160 submissions that we received this year and we feel privileged to showcase the work of the young and talented Arab directors. It is great to see the festival grow year by year," says Sascha Ritter, the Faculty Director of ZUMEFF.

This year, ZUMEFF partners include: Etihad Airways, Park Rotana Abu Dhabi, Fast Rent A Car, TwoFour54, Adobe Middle East & North Africa, Grapheast, Bin Hamoodah Auto, Fakrah Alwan, Dubai International Film Festival, The Scene Club Dubai, Arab cinema Center, #SupportArabCinema, Abela, Mile Studios and UAE National Film Library and Archive, and Zayed University.

The Zayed University Middle East Film Festival has achieved great success since it was first launched in promoting young Emirati filmmakers, after it began as a student initiative and developed to become a cornerstone of Zayed University, showcasing the students' enthusiasm, perseverance, and aspiration for excellence.