Posts tagged ‘D-SEVEN’
She is confident and knows how to extract the best out of herself. The first Emirati woman to successfully establish a career in films, Khaja says she has a long way to go.
Meeting Nayla Al Khaja, the first Emirati woman to successfully establish a career in films, was like experiencing the calm grace of the desert along with the raw intensity of its latent potential. The hour and a half wait for Khaja proved worth it as the prolific film-maker is brutally honest about life and what she expects from herself.
The tale of how Nayla Al Khaja became the United Arab Emirate’s first female independent film maker is like the script of a drama itself, filled with hidden ambition, sacrifices and heartbreak.
As a student at Dubai’s Women College, Al Khaja graduated with honors and briefly hosted a travel show on the Arabian Radio Network. But she then discovered documentary filmmaking, and realized that was where her true passion lay. “In film you can be an entrepreneur, business woman, and work with painters, artists, fashion designers, and musician,” she said.
“At 33 Nayla is the first female film producer in the UAE. The fact that there was no film industry to speak of in the UAE did not slow Nayla down. After graduation she went about making short films and hit the jackpot with her first, Arabana (2006), which won a lot of praise for its dark overtones and controversial subject matter. It touched on the sensitive topic of child abuse, and was used by UNICEF in one of its awareness campaigns.
Her short film, Malal (Boredom) won Best Script Award in the Gulf Film Festival in 2010 and shortly after became the first Emirati-Indian film shot in Kerala. The film debuted at the Dubai International Film Festival in December of the same year and won first place in the Muhr Emirati category.
She is also winner of the British Council’s International Young Screen Entrepreneur Awad (2010), after competing against ten other finalists from around the world.
Nayla is CEO of her own production company D-SEVEN Motion Pictures, and D-SEVEN FZ LLC, a marketing and design agency.
She’s the guiding force behind The Scene Club, the UAE’s first official film club featuring independent cinema.
In short, she has a hand in every film pie in the UAE, and is now slowly spreading her wings in the region.”
Nayla Al-Khaja is an Emirati director who has proven herself in the local and regional arena, and was named one of the 50 most powerful personalities in Arab cinema. She is the first Emirati director and film producer to win the International Prize for Young Entrepreneurs from the British Council. She has also been recognised with other awards, including the Best Script Award at the Gulf International Film Festival and the Muhr Emirati Gold Award from Dubai International Film Festival for her film “Malal” (Bored). Al-Khaja is the first female film producer from the United Arab Emirates and is the CEO of D-SEVEN Motion Pictures.
Variety Arabia met with Al-Khaja at her office in Dubai Media City to talk about local talent, expectations, Emirati cinema and future plans.
I caught up with Nayla Al Khaja shortly after she collected this year’s Digital Studio Best Production Award for Malal. The film also took the Muhr Emirati Award at December’s Dubai International Film Festival, and has since been selected for the shorts section at April’s Tribeca festival in New York. Not unreasonably, I half expected to find the director/producer still basking in the glory, and gearing up for a year of relaxing and dining out on Malal’s success. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The world of Nayla Al Khaja, it seems, is one with little room for resting on laurels. Far from basking, Al Khaja was like a whirlwind as she filled us in on the busy few weeks for her and her company, D-Seven, since our last conversation, following the DIFF success at the end of 2010.