Rasha Amer, founder and director of She Film, noted that festivals played a significant role in getting new women filmmakers seen.
The Sharjah International Film Festival (SIFF) 2021 organised a panel discussion titled ‘The Role of Women in Films’ on women filmmakers and their contribution to the Emirati film industry.
During the session moderated by media personality Asma Hassouni, Emirati filmmakers Rihana Al Hashemi and Rasha Amer said there were ample opportunities for the younger generation of women to gain experience in the cinema sector if they were committed.
Al Hashemi, the co-founder of Mishka Writer’s Room, shared her six-year journey in the field and said that she focused on scriptwriting due to her passion for infusing the local culture and values in her films. She felt that writers should try to reflect the true identity of their communities in their scripts creatively.
Though she has not has any formal education in the field, Al Hashemi said she had learnt the techniques of filmmaking and scripting by attending various workshops. She advised young generations aspiring to venture into the film industry to take advantage of the workshops offered by many UAE institutions, especially the Sharjah-based FUNN, to develop and hone their creative skills. She pointed out the importance of gaining skillsets in the specific department of filmmaking they were interested in, all of which played a vital role in the making of a film.
On the challenges women face in the film industry, Al Hashemi said: “Unlike a regular job, working in the cinema sector requires a filmmaker to be at outdoor locations at odd hours. Filmmakers have to depend on the unstinting support and understanding of their families and community. However, this also applies to men in the field.”
Speaking about her experiences in the film industry, Rasha Amer, director and founder of She Film, said she selects meaningful stories that can create an impact and increase audience awareness. She emphasised that a women’s achievement in the industry depended on her experience and skills, and not her gender.
Amer, who focuses on documentary films, revealed that she was working on a film that she hoped to showcase at an upcoming edition of SIFF. She noted that festivals played a huge role in getting exposure to films made by new filmmakers.
On the impact of the pandemic on women in the film industry, she pointed out that prior to Covid-19, females in the sector in general and in photography, in particular, had to work extremely hard to assert their presence. While the situation remained difficult, the pandemic had provided an opportunity for women to demonstrate their skills by documenting the tremendous efforts of first responders in the health sector on film.