Abdulla Al Kaabi had big dreams to make a difference in the world. And that is exactly what he did. He knew what his vision was from a young age. When we asked him when it started, he said it was the day he saw The Lady of Shanghai by Orson Welles when he was 11 in Fujairah, UAE.
Upon graduating with a business degree from the American University of Sharjah, Abdulla got out of his comfort zone and moved to Paris, France to pursue his masters in Film Making. Al Kaabi's short film "The Philosopher" starring infamous French actor Jean Reno made waves across film festivals worldwide.
A truly inspiring story, Khaleejesque sat with Al Kaabi and chatted to learn more about the inspiring director, what he does and how he sees the the future of Arab directors who have dreams of going international.
Tell us a little more about yourself.
My name is Abdulla. I am a film director with a message to communicate. My dream is to come back one day and talk to you about the Oscar and the Palme D'Or from Cannes.
How did it all start? When did you know you wanted to do this?
I always was fascinated with film. Even growing up, my siblings would watch cartoons, but for me, I would stay up and watch the late night Egyptian films with our Egyptian nanny, it was my favorite pastime.
Tell us more about your fantastic French film and the experience you had living in France and embracing the culture and language.
I directed a film with French actor Jean Reno called "The Philosopher". It was my first short film I did when I was 23. France gave me so much. Living in Paris is like air for an artist; you muse and create even when you pass by a boulangerie.
Who would you say is your muse or inspiration behind your films?
What challenges if any did you face during your pursue to becoming an Arab/Khaleeji director?
I was trying to make so many people have confidence in me at such a young age. Now, our films have been selected in over 40 film festivals worldwide.
What are your views on the future of directing and the future of directors in the region?
Bright. We have so much culture and stories to share in the region and I know that the world will get infatuated by them. We still need more support, it's still very hard for up and coming directors.
What words of advice do you have for young, budding directors out there?
Watch as much films as you can, filmmaking is a craft as much as it is an art, so master it before you jump into it.
What is one of the best films out there from a director’s perspective?
Very tough question!
What do you have in store for us for the future?
I am writing an Arab feature film. A family comedy drama that I call "Banaat Faahma"!
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Determined, Curious and Quiet.
– Sharifa Al Badi
Photos courtesy of Abdulla Al Kaabi