Film As Nation Building: The UAE Goes Into the Movie Business
For the past 10 years, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been aggressively pioneering at a national, government-financed level the production of local films while also courting Hollywood producers as a financier and production center.
As a young, wealthy nation still conflicted about how it defines itself to itself and how it wishes to be defined outside its border--and as a country with no previous history in the visual arts of any kind and no movie-going culture until the late 1990s--the UAE presents a unique approach to the building of a film industry, one that is not grounded in previous models of national film building.
Through content analysis of UAE films and interviews with local filmmakers, framed through rhetoric scholar Kenneth Burke’s writing on symbolism, we look at how the UAE government wishes to be perceived abroad versus how its filmmakers—who have a co-dependent relationship with the government--are portraying the country.
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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011), Directed by James
Madden, Fox Searchlight
Bint Mariam (2008), Directed by Sayed Salmeen, Independent
The Circle (2009). Directed by Nawaf Al Janahi. UAE/Kuwait: MBC
City of Life (2010). Directed by Ali Mostafa. UAE: Film Works
Contagion (2011) Directed by Stephen Soderbergh, Warner Bros. Distribution
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My Name is Khan (2010) Directed by Karan Johar, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Once (2009), Directed by Nayla Al Khaja, Independent
The Rescuers (2010) Directed by Saeed Al Dhaheri, Independent
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Shorts (2009), Directed by Robert Rodriguez, Warner Bros. Distribution
Sun Dress (2010) Directed by Saeed Al Murry, Independent
Syriana (2005) Directed by Stephen Gaghan, Warner Bros Distribution
TelePhoni (2011) Directed by Hassan Kylani, Independent
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