The life of Emirati filmmaker Mustafa
Abbas is defined by an unbridled passion for movies, where the lines between
work and play are somewhat nonexistent. If he’s not making movies, he’s
watching them. The 27 year old strives to attain originality in its purest
form, where his short film, 100 Miles, won the
Best Non Documentary Film Award at the 2007 Emirates Film Competition when he
was only 23 years old. That same year, 100 Miles made the
official selection at the Dubai International Film Festival, marking Abbas’s
ascent as a filmmaker. In this
role, Abbas is also the writer, director, and cinematographer, crafting his
vision into life.
Considered as his seventh
film, 100 Miles is about a young
schizophrenic who put a hit on an old rival for abusing a girl, only later to
discover that he is innocent. Abbas was thus deemed one of the dark horses of
the Arab film industry, sourcing human behavior as his main inspiration for his
crime-based, modern-noir style; films that are dominated by gritty dialogue enticing
shadowy lighting. In 2009, Abbas added yet another feather to his silver screen
cap, when his film, Rain, screened at the year’s
Gulf Film Festival. Since then, Abbas has written several full length screen
plays, some of which are currently under development.
Abbas had a clear-cut
vision of his life in cinema; he began playing with a video camera at the
tender age of 12. By the time he had turned 17, Abbas had already written, and
shot, several home videos using the support of his friends as his star-studded
cast. This fascination with the psychological journeys of the average human
soul is a central part, and even a guiding light, of Abbas’s career path. Upon the success of 100 Miles, he reached international status when his film, The Alley, screened at none-other-than the prestigious Cannes Film
Festival in 2007, where his crime-based approach appealed to fans and critics,
alike. On creating gripping
stories that keep the viewer captivated by the raw portrayal of human
character, Abbas doesn’t believe that there is a fixed formula to achieving
success or making a film. Instead, he finds that the most vital part of a movie
is creating a fascinating middle section, in order to sustain the interest of
One would imaging that it
is only natural for Abbas to flourish with the budding Emirati filmmaking
scene, yet his ability to distinguish his work with the field of crime
thrillers definitely separates him from the rest. Through his work, Abbas
delves deep into the human soul, exploring the nature of characters and their
ability to change from good to evil depending on the circumstances they are
presented with. In a recent interview with Gulf News, he states, “I have
realized anyone is capable of doing anything. It all depends on the situation.”
Choosing to break the mould, and deviate from the expected, he bases great
emphasis on dialogues, and even the lack thereof, as silence plays an
influential factor to exemplify the suspense in a given scene, or enhance the
characters with a truly humane edge. Film critics may look for stunning graphics and 3D effects for that
edge, yet Abbas sees the edge in the humanity and natural portrayal of the
journey of the human soul.
Critics even compare
Abbas’s films to American action films, as he has so far produced movies in the
English language. Challenging himself even further, Abbas has recently written
an Arabic story about street gangs, a resounding phenomenon in the Middle East.
With both local and international screenings to add to his accolades of success,
Abbas is soon due to release his next highly anticipated feature film, Criminal, at the 2012 Gulf Film Festival, starting from the 10th of
April, until the 16th.
What is your
idea of perfect happiness?
Health and peace of mind, respectively. Living the way you
want, and doing the things you like from small to big..
What is your
I think the greatest fear of any human being is the fear of
not being loved.
What is the
trait you most deplore in yourself?
What is the
trait you most deplore in others?
person do you most admire?
Clichéd but the truth: My parents.
What is your
or phrases do you most overuse?
would you most like to have?
Probably drawing or singing.
you consider your greatest achievement?
I'll get back to you on that one in a few years.
you most like to live?
I'm living here already.