Ali Mostafa’s words of wisdom

The last panel on day one of Comic Con featured Ali F. Mostafa along with other guests, a valuable conversation for aspiring scriptwriters and filmmakers in the region. Stay tuned for his upcoming project about friends planning a road trip from Abu Dhabi to Beirut, aptly titled From A to B. Here are some words of wisdom straight from the man who created City of Life.

Ali F. Mostafa, an iconic figure for filmmakers in the region. (Photo by Vivin Oommen)

The power of believing in yourself……..
“Regardless of the film you wanna make, whatever genre is, the most important thing as a filmmaker is to stay true to yourself. Like if you have this idea and you truly believe in it, and I can sit there and have coffee with you and if I could see the passion pouring out of your pores, I would believe you. As an investor I’d probably believe in you”

Success is……..
“Success could be making a lot of money at the box office, or getting international distribution. Then wherever you’re from, whoever’s watching your film, it’s because you put your heart and soul”

For aspiring filmmakers pursuing passion projects, what is it that they shouldn’t do…..
“What not to do, is don’t give up. Regardless of how many doors slam in your face, if you truly believe in it do it, whether it’s in a year or ten years. It took me three and a half years to make and for some people that’s nothing”

On a last note Ali. F. Mostafa admits he’s not a fan of the Star Wars prequels, “I’m a little old school, I grew up loving Star Wars, one of the most iconic themes, costumes and I always wanted to own one and ride around town on my cycle. What I loved about Star Wars is……..(George Lucas) took something when they didn’t really have CGI or special effects and he made something that we can sit and watch till this day……at a time when (you’d think) how can they do that?”

Lets hope his next project gathers more success than City of Life.

Coming up tomorrow, John Rhys Davies’ insider news of The Hobbit and an exclusive 10-minute preview of Peter Jackson’s latest installment to the Lord of the Rings series.

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Laurie Holden’s inside scoop on Walking Dead season 3

The charming blond lady playing Andrea in the popular zombie series Walking Dead, dropped by Middle East comic con in Dubai. Her first time in Dubai, she called the visit a magical moment and was thrilled to venture across the city’s first comic con.

Following the hooking season finale of Walking Dead led by a hooded figure, Laurie Holden confirms the figure is indeed a woman, “The comic book fans would know, the figure is a woman, her name is Michonne”(sources have confirmed Danai Gurira to play the zombie-pet owner Michonne)

Regarding Andrea’s relationship with Michonne in the following season, Holden was glad to add, “Although I haven’t read the script, I have been inside the creative rooms and I can say Andrea and Michonne are going to be  amazing friends” Is she afraid the script-writers might hack her character at some point from the story? “It’s really heart-breaking when one of the characters dies because this is a very unique show. It’s very grueling, the weather’s like the sun in Dubai, it’s very emotional and we’re very close with one another, we’ve become very good friends. When one of us is written off the show it’s really rather devastating to say goodbye to a family member………..I’m hoping I don’t have a death anytime soon”

Laurie Holden hopes her character would live longer in season 3 (original photo by Vivin Oommen)

When asked if she thought the show would be a huge success at a time when Vampires and werewolves were the highlight of pop culture, Holden grinned “We didn’t expect such a huge response, I mean vampires are sexy, zombies are not. But they’ve been embraced internationally and I think there’s a reason for that. I think at a time of crisis…… I think there’s a tropical fear that people have and it’s in the air, and our zombies are a metaphor for the global economic crisis, for global warming, when the world’s uncertain”

About her thoughts on Andrea’s journey in season 3, Holden expressed her concern for retaining her character’s empathy “I hope no more people that I love die, I’m very grateful that she’s not suicidal anymore and she’s empowered herself and is becoming more of a survivor. I don’t know how long Andrea’s gonna live but I hope she falls in love, I hope she builds great friendships, I hope she kills a lot of zombies. I hope they build a new life somewhere, with peace at least for a while”

That was Laurie Holden spilling the beans on season 3. Watch out for more spoilers from John Rhys Davies about the legendary Lord of The Rings’ prequel The Hobbit and Max Landis talking about Chronicle 2. Coming up soooon!

Lo galore! Cosplay in Dubai

I would really pity you if you missed out on the most colorful and whacky convention in Dubai. The one place where dressing up weird is ‘in’ and being normal is as good as non-existent. Today’s your last chance to attend and witness the first Middle East Film and Comic Con so rampage your closet, hunt for that weird tee you would never want to be caught dead with and parade around Dubai International Marine Club.

As for my fellow cosplay enthusiasts, here are some of the displays from Day 1 of Comic con (original photos by Vivin Oommen) More photos coming up!

Were you there? What did you think of the first comic con in the Middle East?

Day 1 of MEFCC: Event bio

I believe one day of awesomeness cannot be wrapped up in a single article. I’d rather break it down to three or more articles. The first Comic Con that people in the Middle East have witnessed has only begun. What was expected to be a haven for comic book fans and film enthusiasts was an exciting showdown of costly talent that would’ve never been recognized, graphic artists in the region we never knew existed, some of the rarest comic copies ranging between AED 2000- AED 10,000 (No, joke), comic merchandise we would never have bothered investing and workshops featuring relevant expertise. See why I can’t include everything in one post?

To start off with, let’s talk about the guests and fans attending this event. Comic Con is one event that has centered and focused on fans all over the world. Dubai would be no different, providing access to celebrities Q & A sessions, workshops, autograph signage (a tad bit expensive on that one) and interacting with celebrities throughout the day. Shahbaaz Ali Khan, an avid fan of Walking Dead graphic novels and the live action series was amazed to meet Laurie Holden in person. Max Landis, the most outspoken and animated person I’ve met shared a few spoilers of the Chronicle sequel, John Rhys Davies (Gimli from Lord of the Rings) commented on how the LOTR catered to an intelligent audience and that The Hobbit would be a 3D experience of it’s own kind. Jason Momoa joined fans for a rather spontaneous and charming Q & A session in the evening. Turns out the tribal leader Khal Drogo is actually a softie in reality, “My wife asks me to do the dishes, I say ‘Yes, mam’….what can I say, I’m a softie”

Laurie Holden describes her visit to Dubai "this is a magical moment to be here" (photo by Vivin Oommen)

Press conference panel featuring John Rhys Davies, Luciana Carro, Sammy Clark, Laurie Holden, Jihad Al Atrash and Ben (organizer of event) (photo by Vivin Oommen)

John Rhys Davies re-enacting a scene from Lord of the Rings (photo by Vivin Oommen)

Max Landis (sreenwriter of Chronicle) surprised that people watched his movie from the Middle East. (photo by Vivin Oommen)

The animated Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) in session with fans. (photo by Vivin Oommen)

Located at the Dubai International Marine Club, there was ample room for the convention hall, an SAE green screen, the grassy arena for main stage activities including cosplay contest, workshop room to learn from the guests, the VOX movie club which hosted Q & A sessions and movie screenings.

The nazi zombie who stole Max Landis' heart at the cosplay contest (photo by Vivin Oommen)

The one place you get to witness and meet comic fans from Dubai, do not miss out on the second day of MEFCC, also the last one. This is history in the making, just the start of the comic world unravelling in the Middle East.

The end of one film festival marks the beginning of another

Another film festival has come to an end and with the closing ceremony has revealed promising talents. The live stream of this ceremony is available on youtube here. Watch the Middle East’s young talent receiving the recognition they completely deserve.
The Gulf Film Festival is one of the few international forums set up for young Arab talent to prosper and spread wings. Competitions set up before the launch of the festival encourage local cinema talent to participate and expose their skills along with fellow aspiring peers.
Although GFF has come to an end, watch out for Tropfest Arabia, the world’s largest short film festival set to begin again at Abu Dhabi.

Taste of Dubai: A Cinderella tale to a Prince’s appetite

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Dear foodaholics, if you missed out on Dubai’s food festival then let me inform you of how big a loss you’ve encountered. Three wholesome days of music, fun and lots of food for everyone! Pardon the excessive exclamation marks you will find in my narration since this was my first time at Taste of Dubai and I still haven’t recovered from the shot of pure-awesomeness that my appetite experienced.  For three days.

  Considering this was my debut at a food festival, I was unaware of the dress code, ethics or the table manners to be followed. So I went with casual in flip-flops and immediately realized just how wrong I was. Contrary to my belief, hundreds of people swarmed around me in the best of their wardrobe: classy and chic and there I was, standing in my jeans and Aeropostale beach slippers. So I decided to make amends for the next day. Little did I realize those weren’t the only amends to be made.

    My friend accompanied me as we discovered this food festival on foot. Stalls, more stalls, fashionable crowd, staff distributing vouchers and pamphlets, goodie bags, a live band which honestly could have performed better, live cooking stations featuring celebrity chefs (oo la la!) and people queued outside stalls on a work-free-Friday. Now that you know the summary, let’s get to the juicy details!

  The food stalls were cleverly arranged to feature retail outlets at the start, a few award winning restaurants further ahead and the world-renowned celebrity chefs’ creations at the very end. Since we were already familiar with PF Changs, Da Shi Dai, Chi Zen and other retail dining restaurants, we decided to invest in the unknown eateries. Thanks to a friend’s suggestion, we experimented with Gaucho, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Seafire and Mahek.

While we indulged in what appeared to be a samosa stuffed with minced beef from Gaucho, our curiosity drifted towards the funny steak from Ruth’s Chris. As for Mahek, I couldn’t ignore the reality behind the name of this luxurious Indian restaurant. Mahek is literally translated to aroma, and that is exactly what attracted us to this fine outlet. We munched on their spicy kebabs dipped in lentil sauce and decided to approach the lamb chops shamelessly with our hands. Which, we realized three minutes later after having sauce spilled on either shirts, was probably not the best strategy when you’re dealing with Indian food.

  And for the highlight of our day, drum roll please…….it’s Seafire! Atlantis is synonymous for having the best restaurants in the city but also the most expensive. And it took us just one restaurant to awaken the delight that such good food does exist in Dubai. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the best steak I’ve enjoyed in my existence: the Atlantis tenderloin wellington served with mashed potato courtesy of Seafire, also awarded as ‘The best steakhouse of 2011’ by TimeOut Dubai. We couldn’t ignore how absolutely delicious Seafire was and given their good customer service we came back for more, and more, until the Atlantis tenderloin was no longer served. It was now time, to move on.

  Live cooking stations were a visible success since people had queued for half-hour and some had to wait as long as an hour. And really, what’s more fun than getting your hands messy in the company of friends. Although we didn’t experience this signature event, our graphic designer Anton enjoyed it “The one-hour cooking session was most definitely the highlight of my day. Due to high demand, we had to queue for over an hour to get our space in the Miele cooking session. Luckily for us, our chef was none other than Suzanne Husseini, a celebrity Arabic chef whose specialty is creating an infusion of traditional and contemporary cooking. Amongst the lucky 30, we spent the next hour cooking meatballs in cherry sauce with honey and spices, in addition to a baklava with a modern twist. Most importantly, however, was to remember the main ingredient “Love”. And the fun didn’t end there; we got aprons and recipe cards to take home. Lots of fun, great idea, amazing utensils and a brilliant chef”

  Taste of Dubai was an interactive exhibition of what’s delicious in town, what’s coming up and where to invest for those occasions! For a noob like me, the three days were a Cinderella-ish fairy tale to a prince’s appetite!

  As published in One Eight One’s April issue. Written by Ayesha Akbar Ali-

Comic-con in Dubai!

Omagawd omagawd omagawd omagawd! Did I just read this right? Comic-con is coming to Dubai?! The middle east?! This cannot be true! An ardent fan of japanese manga and anime and a proud sister of DC and Marvel comics’ fan, my excitement escalated after confirmed news of the Middle East Film and Comic Convention happening in Dubai.

My fascination has been limited to watching the most-exciting-convention-for-graphic-art-readers, via TV, youtube or just browsing through images of various costly models (costume play). But the opportunity to participate and witness it live is simply unbelievable! And if nothing could be more extraordinary than to have a comic-con right here in the city of life, Jason Momoa (of Game of Thrones fame), Laurie Holden (Walking Dead), Chad Michael Murray (from One Tree Hill), John Rhys Davies aka Gimli from Lord of the Rings and many more celebrities will be parading in town for the MEFCC between April 20-21, 2012. I don’t know about you, but I’mma be on my best behavior to witness the event I’ve waited for years.

For more info about the event click here.

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Buy your tickets before you watch those photos come alive on your friends’ facebook and twitter walls. Don’t pout later on and make me say ‘I told you so’ 😛

Coldplay: An Infectious Start of New Year

So how shall I describe my first concert? Yes, it’s embarrassing to admit that I hit 21 without having attended any concerts, but it was a question of value rather than the opportunity. Why people spent over AED 300 (a little less than a $100) for a concert was out of my comprehension; until I saw Coldplay live this New Year’s Eve.

The band was welcomed with fireworks and thrilled fans as they opened with their latest album Mylo Xyloto’s single Hurts like Heaven. Despite having waited for five hours (yes, we were really early), the band kept us on our toes for a little more than an hour. A few songs from their fifth album were accompanied by past hits such as ‘Yellow’, ‘Lost’, ‘Viva La Vida’, ‘The Scientist’ and more. We yelled our lungs out in sync with the band while my friend stood in astonishment as Chris Martin apparently made eye contact with him before jumping on stage (yes, he’s a boy and has been a true fan of Coldplay since their first album).

You can imagine our love-struck grin when the paper confetti made their long-awaited debut at Abu Dhabi. Each performance involved different effects like smoke, laser, huge screen and giant balloons that entertained a crowd of over 20,000 fans.

Their latest hit track Paradise was followed by a digital countdown to New Year’s, which was phenomenal, and soon concluded by their all-neon performance of Every Teardrop is a Waterfall. The concert was excitement, suspense, thrill, energy, happiness and persistence all packed in one hour. The band departed after midnight and left the audience to be stunned by fireworks on display from the Abu Dhabi Corniche.

The Coldplay ‘nation’ exiting the concert were faced by the predictably daunting traffic. Yet, contrary to being frustrated, we reminisced the surreal night on the way home, while listening to some more Coldplay tracks on loop at a radio station. It was the perfect start for a new year.

As published in One Eight One magazine Feb 2012 issue.

TEDxDubaiChange 2012

TEDxDubai is back! And this time to stream a very important dialogue  by Melinda and Bill Gates foundation all the way from Berlin. Tickets are free of course but on RSVP basis. For more information visit their website here, drop an email to  thebigpicture@tedxdubai.com and get thats seat you’ve wanted among the intellectuals of Dubai.

TEDxDubaiChange 2012 will be streamed live at Meydan IMAX theatre. Doors will open at 6pm.