Manahel Bedah Alawadi is the latest Emirati filmmaker to enjoy global acclaim.
Her short, Love Him, As I Do, followed up its success at Cannes’ Short Film Corner in May with competition screenings at Italy’s 12-day Sciacca Film Festival, which ends today.
The Ajman resident’s poignant film tells the story of an Emirati couple whose newborn baby has Down syndrome, and the resultant challenges the mother faces at the hands of her husband and society. Alawadi clearly hopes she can bring a topic rarely discussed in the UAE to the fore with a refreshing new honesty.
“I wanted to tell this kind of human story, but I hoped to bring humour to it to,” she says.
“These kind of people aren’t really talked about in our society, but if someone doesn’t tell that story, no one will ever know. They deserve to live and interact, just like anyone else.”
Alawadi says that her own experiences with people in the UAE who live with Down syndrome were a particular influence on her.
“Sometimes I’ve been out, in shopping malls or wherever, and it really annoys me when I see mistreatment of people like this,” she says. “People think they’re scary. They think they might beat them or something.
“They’re not scary, they’re really sensitive people and they get upset when people treat them like that. God created us all in the same way, and it hurts me to see that. It’s not for us to judge God’s creations, because we all deserve our lives.”
Alawadi says the reaction to her film has been positive, and that she was pleased with the response of audiences in Cannes, where she says she met a number of “inspiring” directors and producers during her visit to the French festival in May.
The director, who studied at New York Film Academy Abu Dhabi and filmed Love Him, As I Do at three locations in the capital, says that she is looking for funding for a feature-length version of the short.
She is also working a new project that she hopes to start filming when the weather cools down next month.
Source: art & life