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Abu Dhabi resident’s film gets picked for Israeli film festival

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Indian expat Shaheer Sha is jubilant as his short film on environmental issues is part of an Israeli film festival.

‘Recognition’, a 23-minute film shot in Ras Al Khaimah, was picked for the first Carmel International Short Film Festival to be held virtually in Israel’s Zikhron Yaakov this month. It is the only selection from the Middle East.

“I am proud that my work is the only representation of the UAE at an Israeli film festival. ‘Recognition’ is a suspense film aimed at highlighting environmental challenges and a message on water conservation for this generation.”

Sha has been in Abu Dhabi since 2001 and works as a sales and marketing supervisor at a private firm. The 42-year-old aspiring filmmaker from Kerala had previously directed two short films and acted in a few Malayalam movies. “I feel strongly about creating social awareness among people through the medium of cinema.”

His earlier works ‘Year 2086’ and ‘Coins’ were based on issues of climate change and social isolation of elderly but both failed to grab public attention.

“Unlike other works done in Malayalam, I made ‘Recognition’ in the English language as I wanted to reach out to more nationalities.”

With a shoe-string budget, Sha started filming with a motley crew and cast in March of 2019. By November, ‘Recognition’ was travelling to different film festivals. He tried his luck by submitting to an Israeli film festival.

“It was in March this year that I submitted my work on Festhome for participation in Israel’s film festival. I knew there were no diplomatic ties between the two countries. The festival organisers could review my film but not download it. The possibility of my film getting picked was grim but I took my chance.”

As luck would have it, the historic peace deal between the UAE and Israel was inked last month and Sha got the call from the festival organisers. “They were elated to know the film was shot entirely in the UAE. The shooting was done in the mountains of Jebel Jais. They liked it.”

‘Recognition’ has already travelled to several film festivals in India, the US, Nigeria and won laurels for best film, director, writer and actor. This is the fruit of hard work. I only want to create awareness about social issues. The film just got an entry into a festival in Columbia too.”

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