From 'A to B' and So Much More!

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Our community member, Amin Fadl, provides insights from the 'From A to B' panel discussion at ADFF

After a successful opening night, top UAE writer/director Ali F. Mostafa took part in a panel discussion about his latest film, “From A to B”. Mostafa and his team described how the film was developed, funded, and filmed. With a whopping 2.5 million dollar budget, Mostafa described that funding the film was the first overbearing task at hand. Almost three years ago, Mostafa came to twofour54 and ImageNation with the idea, where he found approximately half of the funding he needed. 

As brand ambassador for Range Rover as well as a few other companies, Ali used his good relationships with the brands to find much of the remainder of the budget. Due to the pan-Arab setting of the film, Mostafa and the other panelists explained that this film was especially difficult to cast. Set in 2011, the film covers a road trip from Abu Dhabi to Beirut, with scenes set in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Many audience members had noticed that fellow UAE director Nawaf Al-Janahi made a cameo appearance in the film. 

When asked about this, Mostafa explained that he highly respects his fellow craftsman, and that he wanted him in his film in order for him to show that respect. Another cameo came in the form of Saud Al Kaabi. Al Kaabi, the lead in Mostafa’s previous hit film, “City of Life”, appeared for a fleeting moment in the film creating a “playful connection”, as Mostafa calls it, between the two films. Perhaps the most interesting topic to arise was that of taboos. 

When asked a question about taboos, (regarding a scene in the film where the characters try to sneak alcohol into Saudi Arabia) Mostafa made his position on taboos clear. Mostafa believes that touching on taboos in his films helps to draw in a younger audience. He also believes that this could motivate the young audience members to make their own films as they may be drawn in by the edginess of the taboo. As one of the top directors in the UAE, Mostafa stated that he does not feel pressure as a representative of his country, but that he feels honoured by the claim. His passion and dedication to this film were made clear throughout the discussion. Only amplified by his extremely hands-on approach in each stage of the production. When asked about why he was so intimately involved with every last task, Mostafa said that he simply prefers it that way.

On a final parting note, Mostafa gave a tip to young filmmakers in the UAE, “The three P’s”. Stay Patient, Passionate, and Persevere. It was at this point that Mostafa had to rush off to another premiere, that of his own short film “Rise”. Mostafa’s exit saw the packed audience quickly dissipate, despite the remainder of the panelists staying. All in all (besides a few audio issues at the beginning) the event ran very smoothly. It was a fun, light, and extremely informative discussion that helped the audience members grasp the daunting challenges Mostafa faced while creating this feature.