MDX Studios, the state-of-the-art film department at Middlesex University Dubai, is delighted to unveil the line-up for its much-anticipated Student Film Festival, ‘Premiere de MDX Studios’, on Wednesday 27 April. Hosted at Roxy Cinemas, City Walk, the landmark event will feature seven cinematic masterpieces from the University’s Class of 2022 students, as well as a selection of the best films from the classes of 2020 and 2021.
As MDX Studio’s first live and in-person event since 2019, the Student Film Festival is a momentous occasion for all the students and faculty. Over the past two years, each and every film student was forced to work under challenging conditions, with many unable to gain regular access to the on-campus equipment and technology due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Each masterpiece highlighted at the Student Film Festival therefore provides a unique perspective on what it was like to be a film student during the pandemic. By practicing sheer determination and amazing creativity, each student has proved that incredible films can be produced using even the most basic of resources.
Featuring stories inspired by the students’ own lives, as well as their personal interests, relationships, inspirations and memories, the moving and powerful films are also influenced by topics relevant to the pandemic, such as how isolation and social distancing had a negative effect on some individuals’ mental health.
Taking place from 8.30am to 11.30am on April 27, each student director will be given a chance to present their film and discuss their process and inspiration with the audience. As they look forward to building their careers in the global film industry after their graduation, this will provide the students with the ultimate platform to showcase their talents to key industry figures.
Middlesex University Dubai’s expert faculty will also be in attendance to share exciting news about MDX Studio’s growth, future plans and new industry partners. Previous partnerships include organisations such as Warner Brothers Middle East and Shooting Stars, a collaboration which saw a group of students produce a local marketing campaign for the Fantastic Beasts franchise. In 2019, the University’s Film department also won the rights to adapt Stationary Bike, a short story by legendary novelist Stephen King, into a short film through the author’s Dollar Baby programme.
Amongst the many highlights of the enlightening screening, Indian student Anirika Mukhopadhyay will showcase her psychological thriller that revolves around the story of a young man with schizophrenia.
She said: “When it comes to filmmaking, it's really difficult to do something remotely. Film is practical and about being in the field, so it was definitely very challenging for us to have to work from home so much. Our thoughts and projects were influenced by both the pandemic and the articles about mental health that were being published at the time. So, we naturally created films that explored what was happening around us.
“I’ve always been a fan of psychological thrillers, so for my film ‘HisStory’ I decided to stick to that genre and create a story about heartbreak and betrayal by the people who you least expect it from, and give it a surprising twist at the end.”
Meanwhile, student Keziah Khiyalie focuses on the issues surrounding arranged marriages in her film ‘The Signet of Eternity’.
She said: “To me, film is an art unlike any other. It allows us to experience beautiful imagery, hear immersive sounds and live through the movements seen on screen. This is why I wanted to pursue filmmaking as a career and actually bring to life the stories that are constantly popping up in my head. My story is a simple one that perfectly represents the feeling of loneliness. My protagonist is trapped in the boundaries of her traditions, and her husband is an anxious man who looks for companionship in his wife but can never find the right way to be with her.”
Furthermore, student Aswani Kumar, who’s film ‘Everglow’ was inspired by the death of his own mother, commented: “During the pandemic and lockdown, we spent a lot of time by ourselves and I think this helped us come up with better stories, mull over the details and really channel our creative juices.
“Each of us has a story deep inside us that we’ve always wanted to tell but never had the chance to. So, I decided to take up directing and tell this story as a form of closure for what happened to me long ago.”
Other featured plot lines at the Student Film Festival include a child who is traumatised about the separation of his parents, a university student who is struggling with addiction, and a girl who goes to desperate measures to deal with the jealousy she feels for her sister.
In a showcase of the student directors’ musical talents, attendees can also look forward to hearing an original soundtrack and film score by Evelyn Jude Rodrigues, who composed the music especially for her film ‘GHAR’, which follows a young boy’s personal relationships and passion for music.
Afroz Nawaf, Film Lecturer at Middlesex University Dubai, said: “I am so exceptionally proud of all that our student filmmakers have achieved throughout the past two years, especially considering how challenging they have been for creatives who work in such a practical and community-based industry like the film sector. At MDX Studios, we aim to get our students used to the demands of the film industry from day one, employing a script-to-screen approach that prepares them for roles in the global media landscape. This Film Festival has empowered them to prepare their projects for theatrical distribution – the most important part of a filmmaker’s life. This is one of the most unique aspects of our teaching and learning, and one that sets us apart from other film schools in the region.”
Awarded the ‘Best Media Centre’ in the region at the Forbes Middle East Higher Education Awards 2019, MDX Studios is one of the very few film schools in the Middle East that offers an end-to-end, script-to-screen teaching plan. Its comprehensive array of facilities includes industry-standard editing suites, colour, editing and VFX suites, a special screening room and more amazing cutting-edge technological features.