“Champ of the Camp” Sparks Ongoing Dialogue

Our award-winning film “Champ of the Camp” continues to spark dialogue about the critical issue of labor camps in the Arabian Gulf region.

On April 24, the film will be screened in Hong Kong in “Afterwork,” a major group exhibition exploring issues of class, race, labour, and migration in Hong Kong, its surrounding region, and beyond. Afterwork is part of Para Site’s ongoing Hong Kong’s Migrant Domestic Workers Project, a long-term initiative aimed at engaging the domestic worker community through collaboratively organised public programmes and commissioned artist research. “Champ of the Camp” was programmed in this exhibition by Taiwanese film critic Austin Hsu.

Also in April, the film will be screened for free in the labor camps of Dubai Investments.

“Champ of the Camp” is the first feature-length creative documentary documentary shot in the labor camps of the United Arab Emirates. It follows a massive Bollywood singing and trivia competition among thousands of laborers, and puts a face to this vast and isolated population of men who come to build the dream cities of the Arab world while supporting their societies and economies back home in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Eva Sayre Selected For Berlinale Talents

Veritas business director Eva Sayre has been chosen as one of 300 emerging film professionals from 79 countries for this year’s Berlinale Talents, a six-day programme featuring over 100 events at Berlinale 2016. Appointed by an international selection committee on the basis of prior achievements, resonance and relevance of the work as well as exceptional promise, the 300 talents were chosen from a group of 2,761 applicants from 137 countries. Berlinale Jury President Meryl Streep will be in attendance.

A New Collaboration With Doha Film Institute

Filmmaker Mahmoud Kaabour has commenced an advisory role on Doha Film Institute’s upcoming production “Dari Qatar”. (My Home Qatar)

Mr Kaabour will be offering a year-long director mentorship to an up-and-coming Qatari filmmaker and advising on the overall creative direction of the project. The ambitious project is a user-generated documentary on the Gulf state, compiled from submissions by its general public. For more info, click here.

"Dari Qatar” is a welcome new partnership with Doha Film Institute, following successful associations on “Champ of the Camp” and “Grandma, a Thousand Times."


Veritas Films' Founder Named to “100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40” List

100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40 - Mahmoud Kaabour filmmaker

Filmmaker and founder of Veritas Films, Mahmoud Kaabour, was honored to be named to the “100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40” list. Published by Arabian Business, this is their guide to the most influential young Arabs in the world.

The flattering mention of his “endless” achievements is an exceptional recognition for the founder of Veritas Films and his contributions to the region through filmmaking. The other honorees are inspiring company, men and women who shape the politics, business and culture of the Middle East. We are proud to see Mr. Kaabour represent documentary filmmaking among this esteemed group of influencers.

Read the full list here >

Veritas Films Founder on a Worldwide Speaking Tour

Mahmoud Kaabour addresses the International Labor Organization

Mahmoud Kaabour addresses the International Labor Organization

Award-winning filmmaker Mahmoud Kaabour is now represented by Global Top Speakers, part of 5 Sterne Team in Germany. The representation deal comes after a slew of speaking engagements on themes like storytelling, documentary filmmaking, and of course, labor camps.

Past engagements this year included a keynote speech at a joint media summit by the International Labor Organization and Panos Institut Europe on the theme “Looking for creative narratives around labor migration in the middle-east.” Mr Kaabour also delivered a keynote speech at Starcom MediaVest Group’s The One Awards, which can be viewed here.

CNN International "Inside the Middle East" Feature Report on Champ of the Camp

What is life like for the men who build Dubai's skyscrapers? Human rights groups have repeatedly drawn attention to the low wages and living conditions of the emirate's corps of foreign workers (mostly from south and southeast Asia), but there have been few attempts to scratch the surface of their everyday life beyond the construction sites. A new documentary that opened in Dubai cinemas this week is hoping to change all that.

Watch the video report and read the full article here.

Champ Of The Camp Wins The Best Production Of The Year Award From Digital Studio

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER EVA SAYRE AND DIRECTOR MAHMOUD KAABOUR WITH THE AWARD FOR BEST PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR FROM THE DIGITAL STUDIOS AWARDS

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER EVA SAYRE AND DIRECTOR MAHMOUD KAABOUR WITH THE AWARD FOR BEST PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR FROM THE DIGITAL STUDIOS AWARDS

“Champ of the Camp” touched the hearts of audience members across four Emirates in the first-ever wide release of an Arab documentary in the UAE and now it has won the top prize from its industry peers at Digital Studio Awards, beating out fiction, documentary, and corporate projects from across the MENA region to scoop up the Best Production of the Year prize.

Executives from the Middle East’s TV and film production industry converged on Dubai for the 10th edition of the Digital Studio Middle East Awards ceremony. The sector was recognised for excellence across 14 categories of awards covering the full spectrum of talent in the industry, from film production and post-production to technical innovation. The event kicked off with a speech from guest speaker, Mark Sanger, the Oscar winning editor of hit movie “Gravity.”

The evening then moved on to the announcement of the awards. The prestigious award for Best Production of the Year went to Veritas Films for “Champ of the Camp.” The award was accepted by director Mahmoud Kaabour and producer Eva Sayre.

"A.I.R. Dubai 2013" Shows Worldwide on Emirates Airlines

veritas emirates

Emirates Airlines licensed our dynamic and visually vibrant commissioned documentary about the "Artists in Residence" program held annually in Al Fahidi Cultural Neighborhood in the lead-up to Art Dubai and Sikka Art Fair. This is expected to bring excellent exposure to Dubai’s budding art scene, and specifically the residency itself.

The film was commissioned by Tashkeel in 2013. It was filmed over four months, starting in the international artists' home cities and concluding at Art Dubai. 

Watch the trailer > 

Watch the full film >

Champ of the Camp has a ground-breaking World Premiere

The first-ever documentary from the labor camps of Dubai drew a crowd of 1,200+ and a standing ovation for our stars in attendance, the laborers.

On Sat Dec 7th, "Champ of the Camp" was shown at the 10th Dubai International Film Festival in one of the largest documentary premieres in recent history. 1,200+ people saw the narratives of the labor camps play out against the backdrop of Burj Khalifa, in a night of symbolic reconciliation between the larger public and the marginalized labor community. The press has been raving ever since. A positive change has started here. We thank everyone who supported our efforts and made this night happen!

Read reviews of the film in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.

Selected additional press coverage of the world premiere: 

Strong Festival Run for "Kismet"

Kismet documentary festivals

In its world premiere, “Kismet” was nominated and short-listed for the IDFA Best Mid-Length Documentary Award 2013, and it has kept up the momentum since.

"Kismet," the analytical documentary about the soft power exercised by Turkish soap operas, had a strong world premiere at the International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam in November 2013. It competed and made the short-list in IDFA’s Best Mid-Length Documentary category.

It is keeping a strong momentum on the festival circuit, showing at the following festivals:

  • Vera Festival - Finland
  • TempoFestival - Sweden
  • Planete Doc - Poland
  • One World Film Festival - Czech Republic
  • International Women’s Film Festival in Seoul (IWFFIS) – Korea
  • Istanbul Film Festival – Turkey
  • Movies that Matter - The Netherlands
  • Sofia International Film Festival – Bulgaria
  • Arabian Film DaysFilms From The South – Norway
  • Thessaloniki Documentary festival - Greece
  • Endeavours Documentary Festival – Singapore
  • Cinemazero Cultural Association - Italy
  • One World Festival - Slovakia
  • Ismailia Film Festival - Egypt

Veritas Films co-produced the film in its UAE section which features scenes and characters in Abu Dhabi and Ras al Khaimah. The film is directed by Nina-Maria Paschalidou and produced by Forest Troop and Anemon Productions, in co-production with Al Jazeera and ARTE, in association with SVT, Knowledge Network, YLE, RTS, Channel 8, BTV, MRT and CYBC and with the support of the Media Programme of the EU, the Croatian and Bulgarian Film Centres.

Watch the trailer here.

Eva Sayre Named Among British Council's Middle East "Cultural Leaders & Innovators"

In the British Council's program for emerging leaders in the cultural and creative sector, Eva Sayre was recognized for her contributions to the development of the documentary film industry in the GCC region. Veritas Films’ business director will join other cultural leaders and innovators through a series of Cultural Policy Summits in 2013.

Sayre notes, "I hope these summits will present an opportunity to explore constructive areas of improvement in my industry. I would like to address some regulatory handicaps to documentary filmmaking in the UAE and also use this platform to bring more awareness to business side of the film industry. As far as I am aware, I am so far the only executive producer in the UAE focused exclusively on documentary films — it can be a little lonely! Most young filmmakers here are encouraged to be directors, but good executive producers are also essential to the emerging film industry and we should find ways to develop that talent."

Grandma, a Thousand Times wins top prize in London

The victory marks the first Arab film to win at LIDF.


The Abu Dhabi based Veritas Films announced today that the company’s recent title “Teta, Alf Marra” (Grandma, a Thousand Times) has won the Best Film award at London International Documentary Festival, the largest documentary festival in the UK. The festival’s director, Patrick Hazard said: “I think it is a very well deserved award, a film of great integrity, love and intelligence,” commenting on the jury’s decision to award the film with the highest prize.
 

“Teta, Alf Marra” was the jury’s favorite out of 65 international titles in competition. It marks the first time that an Arab film wins the Best Film title at London’s prestigious documentary festival, which took place May 13th – 28th.

Mahmoud Kaabour to lead special panel at Tribeca Film Festival in New York

The Abu Dhabi based Veritas Films has announced today that Mahmoud Kaabour, the writer and director of the multi-award winning documentary “Teta, Alf Marra” (Grandma, a Thousand Times) is to lead a special panel on Arab cinema at the tenth Annual Tribeca Film Festival, New York.

The panel will invite discussion on the development and current status of the Arab film industry, following a special event screening of “Teta, Alf Marra” on April 25th , which marks the North American premiere of the film. Tribeca’s special events are a prestigious and highly publicized series which will also feature Ron Howard, Robert de Niro and Martin Scorsese this year.

The invitation to speak at the Tribeca Film Festival is yet another glowing accolade for Abu Dhabi’s Veritas Films; “Teta, Alf Marra” has been garnering rave reviews internationally with sold out screenings in Tunis, Rotterdam, and Damascus as well as two Audience Awards for Best Documentary from Doha Tribeca Film Festival and DOX BOX Film Fest. The film was recently chosen to open Mathaf: Arab Museum for Modern Arts and Mahmoud Kaabour was nominated for The Best Arab Filmmaker Award at Doha Tribeca.

Teta, Alf Marra” will be released theatrically in Lebanon starting from April 14th and in the UAE at select theaters before summer. 

Veritas Films is a winner at Doha Tribeca Film Festival

Veritas Films, the Abu Dhabi based film company, has been awarded the Audience Award for Best Documentary and a jury special mention for filmmaker Mahmoud Kaabour for the documentary “Teta, Alf Marra” (Grandma, a Thousand Times) at the internationally acclaimed Doha Tribeca Film Festival, Qatar.

On what was its world premiere, ‘Teta, Alf Marra’ proved to be a huge success with both judges and audiences, scooping up the prize for the Audience Award for Best Documentary in recognition of the strong appeal of this poetic documentary. Mahmoud Kaabour, Veritas Films’ founder and the filmmaker behind the film, also received a special jury mention for best director. The Best Documentary award was presented to Mahmoud Kaabour and Eva Star Sayre by internationally acclaimed actor and filmmaker Robert De Niro and brings a USD $100,000 cash prize. This is the latest in a series of honors highlighting the contributions of Veritas Films to the filmmaking industry of the region.

The 48-minute film, a UAE/Qatar/Lebanon co-production, was made possible by the financial support of the Doha Film Institute and Screen Institute Beirut.  It also marked the first film to be made by Veritas Films’ new Abu Dhabi office at twofour54, Abu Dhabi’s dedicated content creation community.

On receiving the awards, Mahmoud Kaabour, the founder of Veritas Films founder, said: “I am humbled by this honor and deeply moved. I hope that this recognition will serve to remind my audiences of the labor and love of grandmothers the world over.”

Eva Star Sayre, the film’s executive producer, said: “To win this award and a special jury mention for the very first film that produced from our Abu Dhabi office is incredibly satisfying. I am confident that Veritas Films has an exciting future as a leading producer of innovative and compelling non-fiction films. We are thrilled to be among the leaders in creating Arabic content, telling significant untold stories in the media hub of recent years. On behalf of the team at Veritas, I would like to extend my thanks to the Doha Film Institute and Screen Institute Beirut for their financial support."

Veritas Films wins 2010 Anasy Best Script Award

Award-winning filmmaker and Veritas Films’ founder Mahmoud Kaabour was named as this year’s recipient of the Anasy Best Script award for his upcoming project “The Champ of the Camp.” The 50,000 AED award will serve as a development fund for Veritas Films’ feature-length documentary on the contestants of next year’s “Camp ka Champ,” an X Factor-like singing competition that takes place in many of Dubai’s labor camps.
 
In a recent interview on Al-Arabiyya News Channel, Kaabour described the project as a continuation of his personal cinematic vision, to open a portal on the fascinating lives of under-represented, otherwise ordinary, individuals. “The labor camps are also a stage for paramount musical dreams,” says Kaabour. “I want to focus on the seed of optimism that brought these individuals so far for to build a life, to sustain a family and to pursue the fame and glory of being crowned the champ of the camp.”

“Champ of the Camp” aims to follow five laborer-crooners as they hone their vocal skills and entertain dreams of stardom in the months preceding the competition.  The project will enter production in 2011 if it attracts the necessary funding.
 
The film’s impetus lay in a recent collaboration between Veritas Films and Camp ka Champ when Kaabour curated the first-ever public concert for last year’s winners at his bi-annual film series “Mahmovies!” The concert was attended by approximately 300 members of the UAE public and was widely acclaimed in the local press and blogosphere.

Mahmovies! is back for a third series titled Mahmovies! Black & White Glory

‘Mahmovies!’ a bi-annual film series curated by award-winning filmmaker Mahmoud Kaabour, is back with a new lineup to provoke, stimulate and entertain.

Following an incredible second series, Mahmovies! Music for the Eyes, it is evident that there exists a real hunger for a regular screening venue for less mainstream, more challenging work from around the globe. “The standing room only crowd at the screenings is a testament of Dubai’s need for such events,” commented Hetal Pawani of thejamjar.

The third series of ‘Mahmovies!’ is titled Black & White Glory and it highlights achievements in black and white cinematography . This upcoming series aims to inspire and motivate the audience to look beyond storylines to the visual mystery of cinema as an art of movement, form, light and shadow, moving at twenty four frames a second.

Curator Mahmoud Kaabour comments that “organizing a series around a visual element is a concept that Dubai is ready for. Our goal is to come together to enjoy cinema with new, fresh eyes and without necessarily focusing on plotlines and characters only.”

The series will subvert any stereotypes of black and white cinema as dated or romantic and offer audiences a multitude of dimensions to their viewing, which is not on offer, regrettably, in the selections of Dubai multiplexes.

Black and White Glory will screen a selection of films that cross the traditional genres of narrative, documentary and experimental filmmaking. Each film is remarkable for the way its use of black and white highlights an array of calculated aesthetic choices by the director and the director of photography. Though it might be assumed that lack of colour is a simplification of the filmmaking craft, this series aims to demonstrate otherwise: the decision to shoot in black and white has a powerful impact on the overall tone of a film and on a myriad of artistic choices within it. Kaabour comments, “Practically each frame of these films would work as a stand-alone work of art in respect to its composition and lighting due to the choices made by the director and the director of photography.”