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MENA Film Craft and Creativity

MENA Film Craft and Creativity

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Following a fantastic experience on the Film Craft Jury at Dubai Lynx 2019, our Managing Director and Executive Producer of China, Asia and MENA Laura Geagea has answered all of our burning questions about what went on in the Jury Room and shared her thoughts on the creative advertising landscape in the Middle East.

What was the standard of work like at Dubai Lynx 2019?
I grew up between Lebanon and Canada and despite being from Middle Eastern origin, I’ve had comparatively less exposure to the work coming out of the MENA region than that of the Chinese and Asian markets.

I was impressed by a lot of the work we judged over the course of the festival. The variety of the work submitted to the Film Craft category really showcased the versatility of the region. The craft, the styles and the ideas, but also the boldness of some of the work was great and very refreshing to see.

It was also great to see work coming from so many different countries in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco and Lebanon were all represented.

Did it meet your expectations?
The work we saw definitely surpassed my expectations. It feels as though the MENA region is on a very solid path of getting stronger in its craft. It is creating a voice for itself. That voice is also quite different to the stereotypical work you’d expect to see from this region. That’s very exciting.

Did you notice any themes through the work (whether in a creative idea or production craft sense)?
The MENA region obviously has plenty of political and religious topics to use as inspiration. Conflict-torn countries, some recovering from civil wars and obvious unrest throughout, it felt like that might have been the main focus in terms of themes. But an interesting thing that I came to realise as I was going through the work, was that even greater emphasis had been placed on social matters, like gender equality, child safety and racial equality.

What are your thoughts on the creative ad landscape in the Middle East?
I think it’s got diversity. And it’s that diversity which helps to make the landscape so unique. Out of the hundreds of submissions, we could have awarded quite a number of them. Probably a Jury’s sweetest dream, while also being its worst nightmare! From animation, comedy, to vignettes, emotional storytelling, charity work, audio-driven pieces… you name it. The quality was outstanding.

With lots of different industries taking big steps in the right direction in the Middle East, there’s no doubt that the creative industry will keep growing over the next few years.

What was the most challenging part of the judging process?
I think one thing that we always came back to in our Jury room was putting the work into perspective within the region. Watching it from a Middle Eastern point of view and understanding where the core message of each piece comes from, what the cultural relevance is, and why it’s an important topic or step for the region.

Our team was requested to pre-judge most of the work before we got on the ground in Dubai and once we were there, we spent much of our first day revisiting the 100+ shortlisted entries before going into deeper discussions about which pieces were worthy of winning. It was definitely through those discussions that we were all able to broaden our perspectives and focus on that idea of craft being key.

And the most rewarding?
I was very fortunate to be part of a great group of Jury members during the festival. Film Craft is a fascinating category and the seven of us shared lots of interesting ideas and opinions during our two days of judging. It always feels like a bit of a luxury to have time dedicated purely to talking about the work without any other distractions.

It was an absolute pleasure to have been part of it and to have had the opportunity to gain some further insight on the work in the region, and the potential it holds for the near future. I’m looking forward to seeing where the MENA region gets to year after year and hopefully seeing it grow even more in craft and quality of work.

Check out all of the winners and shortlists from Dubai Lynx 2019 here.