New alternative film festival, CineMAS, coming soon to Manarat Al Saadiyat


Manarat Al Saadiyat, part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), has announced the first edition of CineMAS, the alternative film fest taking place from 16-20 April on Saadiyat Island.

This not-to-be-missed event for movie fans will screen a selection of the best in recent independent cinema, including short films, documentaries, dramas and comedies, complemented by talks and workshops with industry professionals, and daily entertainment.

This first edition of CineMAS will offer a dynamic line-up of both indoor and outdoor screenings, with a focus on films highlighting humanitarian and social issues. The event will also look to the future of Arab cinema, with talks and workshops giving attendees the opportunity to learn from and network with a number of key independent filmmakers, producers and other industry professionals.

“CineMAS is a new and one-of-a-kind initiative in line with our mandate to further activate the culture of Abu Dhabi,” said Alia Al Qassimi, Head of Manarat Al Saadiyat. “We have carefully curated this selection of movies, which will thrill discerning cinema lovers while opening constructive dialogue around important social issues. Independent cinema is an incredibly vital and important form of cultural expression, and we are excited to not only introduce these international films to a wider audience, but provide film enthusiasts with the chance to learn more about the industry.”

Aside from screenings, CineMAS will include a programme of workshops led by Oscar-nominated stars and pioneering producers, which will provide deeper insights into filmmaking processes such as casting and scriptwriting. In addition, a series of panel sessions will host regional film producers and other experts to discuss topics such as the present state and future outlook of Arab cinema, and the role of women in the industry.

The line-up of screenings include several award-winning films, such as the acclaimed Free Solo documentary. Winner of the 2019 Oscar and BAFTA for Best Documentary, Free Solo is presented by National Geographic and co-produced with Imagenation.

Other films being shown include the much-lauded Capharnaum, written and directed by Nadine Labaki, recounting the journey of 12-year-old Zain who decides to sue his parents for having brought him into this world when they can’t raise him properly. The Day I Lost My Shadow, written and directed by Soudade Kaadan, takes place in Damascus in 2012, around the time of the start of the war in Syria. The story revolves around young Sana, who is trying to raise her son by herself.

Another highlight of the programme is Minding the Gap, a documentary directed by Bing Liu. Compiling over 12 years of footage shot in his hometown of Rockford, Illinois, Bing Liu searches for correlations between his skateboarder friends’ turbulent upbringings and the complexities of modern-day masculinity.

The rich CineMAS programme includes these and many other stories of courage, empowerment and passion. For the full schedule of screening and events, and to book tickets, please visit

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