On to the Jaipur International Film Festival for ZU Students

We are proud to announce that “Dreams in their Eyes,” a 19-minute documentary made by three Zayed University students–Abeer Al Marzouqi, Ayesha Al Ameri, and Khawla Al Maamari–is part of the Jaipur International Film Festival this week. DreamsinEyesFilmmakersatWork

Dreams in their Eyes took the prize for  “Best Emirati Film” and “Best Student Documentary” at the Emirates Film  Competition/Abu Dhabi Film Festival this year.    The film chronicles the medical support given to children in the Palestinian refugee camps of Lebanon by the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), a US charity.

The three students are the first Emiratis believed to have filmed in the refugee camps.  They interviewed  children, parents, social workers, doctors, and several of the 450,000 Palestinians living in these camps.  They shot in the homes, hospitals, operating rooms and schools of Bourj al Barjeneh, Shatila, Ain Al Helwa, and Bourj Al Shamali refugee camps

“I didn’t expect that one day I will be the one who’s carrying the camera documenting such painful stories in Palestinian camps in Lebanon,” says Abeer Al Marzouqi, one of the students.   “It was so hard to see, and it reminds how we must thank God for all we have in the UAE.”

The PCRF’s supporters include the HH Princess Haya Bint Hussein (wife of the Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, HH Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum), Bishop Desmond Tutu, and former US president Jimmy Carter.

“This video is very important because people need to see visually the good work that volunteers from all over the world are providing for some of the most marginalized and neglected people in the region,” says Steve Sosebee, founder and CEO of the PCRF, which received five stars from Charity Navigator, the highest rating given to US charities.

The film was shot during the week that a Chilean mission of volunteer orthopedic surgeons came to do surgeries on children brought to Bourj Al Barjneh.  The students were even allowed to film one of the surgeries, that of a 10-year old boy named Salim.

“I really developed my filming skills, but it also taught me to hold my emotions back, especially while shooting Salim’s surgery,” says Ayesha.   “That child had a huge impact on my heart. I always think about him.”

“This was the largest experience and test of responsibility in my life,” says Khawla. “I hope this film will show that all children in the world should have a chance to live a normal life.”    ShatillaCamp

The film  was funded by the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF).  The trip was organized by ZU assistant professor, Alia Yunis, who also served as the producer.

Congrats to Abeer, Ayesha, and Khawla!  We’ll let you know where it plays next.

Of course, the filmmakers will be at ZUMEFF.   We look forward to receiving your films!  Submissions are open.