The official shortlist for the first ever Small Screen, Big Film festival has been announced, featuring twelve short films created on smartphones by young people across the GCC. The Festival takes place via the British Council’s YouTube channel between April 24th– May 4th2018, when all 12 shortlisted works can be viewed across the globe. Four standout smartphone filmmakers will be chosen at the end of the festival for a one-to-one mentorship programme with a British filmmaker, courtesy of the London Film School.

A new platform for young and aspiring filmmakers in the Gulf, Small Screen, Big Filmis one of eight initiatives under the British Council’s Culture and Sports programme, a three-year initiative aimed at promoting active participation in culture and sports to encourage greater youth engagement, team work, volunteering, female participation and leadership, diversity and inclusion.

The Small Screen, Big Film shortlist was selected by a jury comprised of renowned industry professionals: Emirati filmmaker, Nahla Al Fahad; Emirati Director, Abdulla Al Kaabi; award winning British filmmaker, Asif Kapadia; and praised English actress and writer, Alice Lowe.

Two of the shortlisted films were created by talented young people from Kuwait.

  • ‘On my way to college’ by Azza Abdul Wahab Al Jamal – Kuwait (top)
  • ‘Bird House’by Hussain Abbas – Kuwait (below)


Passions Arabia Small Screen Big Film Bird House by Hussain Abbas Kuwait

Emirati filmmaker and jury Member, Abdulla Al Kaabi commented: “Film is a medium of self-expression and we saw some incredible viewpoints from a hugely diverse group of young people in the Gulf. What’s unique about the Small Screen, Big FilmFestival is that all entries are created using smartphones. This not only made it easier for more young filmmakers to share their story, but also challenged their creativity to tell a story in three minutes or less.”

He added: “The passion we saw from so many promising filmmakers in wanting to share their message with the world made our job in selecting the shortlist tough. We’re excited for the rest of the world to be able to view them this April.”

Rehana Mughal, Senior Programme Manager, Culture and Sport at British Council, commented: ‘The Small Screen, Big Film festival has helped us to connect with the themes and topics that interest youth in the Gulf. There is clearly a passion for filmmaking amongst young people, and we would encourage everyone to experience this for themselves by watching the films online during the festival. The programme aims to tap into the limitless potential of young people and give them resources, guidance and a platform to share their perspective with the world. Over the coming months we will develop more user-friendly resources to help more young people get into filmmaking.’


The 12 shortlisted, three-minute smartphone films will be screened online through the British Council’s YouTube platform from April 24th– May 4th. Fans of film are encouraged to join the festival and vote for their favourites.

The full list of shortlisted entries are:

  • Chained’ by Noor Alsaudi – Bahrain
  • ‘A Rose’ by Zahra Husain Shams – Bahrain
  • ‘Lost’ by Hassan Abdulla Hasan Ali Ebrahim – Bahrain
  • ‘The Black Circle’ by Abdullah Mohsen Abdullah – Bahrain
  • ‘Do it’ by Eman Aldweikh – Saudi Arabia
  • ‘Fake Life’ by Abdullah Zia – Saudi Arabia
  • ‘The Taxi Driver’ by Faisal Musa – Saudi Arabia
  • ‘Layered Memories’ by Ruba Badwan – United Arab Emirates
  • ‘FataMorgana’ by Matthew Tan – United Arab Emirates
  • ‘Transit’ by Shams Zaman – Qatar
  • ‘Bird House’ by Hussain Abbas – Kuwait
  • ‘On my way to college’ by Azza Abdul Wahab Al Jamal – Kuwait

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