‘The Choice’ earns ZU alum screenwriting awards

On the set of drama "The Choice," the first professional film by ZU alumna Eman Al Sayed, who earned a pair of writing awards recently. (Photo courtesy of Eman Talal Al Sayed)

On the set of drama “The Choice,” the first professional film by ZU alumna Eman Al Sayed, who earned a pair of writing awards recently. (Photo courtesy of Eman Talal Al Sayed)

By Ayesha Balfaqeeh

ABU DHABI—“The Choice” (2016) is a drama film directed, produced and written by Eman Talal Al Sayed, who is young Emirati filmmaker and director.

A native of Abu Dhabi, Ms. Al Sayed graduated earlier this year from Zayed University with a visual communication degree. She was given a budget of Dh18,000 from Image Nation of twofour54 to make this film after she did her internship there last winter. She shot the film on location at her Mohammed Bin Zayed City home and at a farm in the desert of Abu Dhabi Emirate.

The 10-minute feature film was shown as part of the Dubai International Film Festival at Vox Theatre in the Mall of the Emirates on 11 December and 13 December 2016.

“The Choice” is a film about a young woman forced to make a difficult choice that will change her life. The protagnoist, Lauren (played by Sabrina Anderson), flies from the United States to the United Arab Emirates to collect the inheritance her deceased father left for her and her brother  (played by Viraj Bulla) with her family in the UAE. While on her visit to the family farm out in the desert, her disapproving uncle forces her to make a choice of either marrying her cousin or losing her inheritance.

The narrative film is about Lauren going through the process of weighing the pros and cons of getting married. Eventually she agrees, but will she actually go through with it or not?

In my opinion, the film generally had a good storyline and intent, but it did have a few downfalls. The audio wasn’t very clear at times. At a key point in the script, it is hard to tell if Lauren tells the go-between that she is a ballet dancer—when it actually sounds like she says “belly dancer.” Perhaps this was intentional, but it is hard to tell. And the writing was cheesy at times.

Eman Al Sayed, center, accepting her screenwriting award at DIFF 2016. (Photo courtesy Eman Talal Al Sayed)

However, overall it was a well-thought out film, and the ending leaves you thinking about what you would do in Lauren’s situation. Ms. Al Sayed has done well for her first directing adventure.

Ms. Al Sayed, 21, was awarded Dh50,000 from the Arab Film Studio/Image Nation’s annual short film narrative competition. She actually shared that prize with Jafaar Al Madhoon, 25, of Bahrain. His film is titled “Rattled.”

The ZU alumna also won Dh50,000 from the Dubai International Film Festival for her screenwriting. That was announced during DIFF 2016. Ms. Al Sayed said she would use the money from the two prizes to start work on her second feature movie, which has decided to title “Blanket.”

The young Emirati filmmaker credited her editor, Noura Almansori, and director of photography, Bart Perez, with being instrumental in the success of the movie.


“The Choice”

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