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Four UAE filmmakers ready to grab ‘Chance of a Lifetime’

Abu Dhabi: Four UAE filmmakers will take global centre-stage on TV when a new reality series begins airing from March 25.

Chance of a Lifetime, a non-scripted show that tracks 12 young filmmakers competing to make a 10-minute film on a UN priority global cause, will premier on National Geographic.

“It (conceptualisation) started a couple of years ago when Bob Orr, of the UN, and I started talking about doing a show where we can mix social causes with entertainment. So I came up with this idea,” said Ashok Amritraj, 58, former tennis player and now CEO of Hyde-Park entertainment.

The dozen filmmakers hand-picked from the UAE, India and Singapore are divided into four rival teams, comprising three contestants, one from each region. The show format demands they work together, overcoming not only cultural differences, but also time constraints and filmmaking obstacles.

“I felt that diversity-wise, getting a perspective from Asian and Middle Eastern documentarians on the social causes that we were going to be addressing was more in line with what the UN and I would like to do,” said the former India Davis Cupper who will host the show.

Films to be scripted, shot and post-produced covered wide-ranging topics from malaria to universal education to HIV/AIDS, from child mortality to poverty to hunger — all United Nations core initiatives to improve the lives of ‘Every Woman, Every Child’. The filming took place more than a year ago in Chennai, India, where Amritraj and his band of tennis brothers are from.

“We shot for 25 days. The participants were divided into teams and given nine topics. They had to then pitch me an idea and each team had to make a one-minute film on four topics. After the elimination rounds, the remaining three teams had to make a five-minute film on three topics. The final two teams would then make a ten-minute film on the final two topics,” said Amritraj.

The project is produced in collaboration with Hyde Park-Image Nation and is supported by the UN, the UCLA Burkle Centre for International Relations and Variety magazine.

The winning team will be flown to New York, where their film will be shown at the UN headquarters. After that, they’ll be flown to French Riviera to receive special recognition from Hollywood’s Variety magazine during the Festival de Cannes.

fantastic four from the UAE

Amena Al Nowais, a university graduate in Hebrew and politics who is currently making a soon-to-be-out short documentary for a UAE-based reading initiative, Zowd.

Abu Dhabi born Ayesha Mohamed is a graduate from Zayed University who coordinated a 19-minute documentary shot in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. It won the best Emirati film and the best student documentary at the 2012 Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

Al Ain-born Moath Bin Hafez was raised in Dubai and graduated with a BA in applied media from Dubai Men’s College. His documentary was rated second at the Gulf international Film Festival.

Omar Butti, presenter on Dubai One, is known as the face of the channel. He worked alongside Tom Cruise during the filming of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.