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First GCC animated film premieres at DIFF

Ibn Al Ghabah (The Jungle Kid) is an 88-minute family film, created by the GCC Joint Programmes Production Institution, a Kuwait-based group.

The first-ever animated film produced in the Gulf made its world premiere at the Dubai International Film Festival. Ibn Al Ghabah (The Jungle Kid) is an 88-minute family film, created by the GCC Joint Programmes Production Institution, a Kuwait-based group that creates educational programming for Arabic-speaking children. The institution has previously produced Iftah Ya Simsim, the Arab version of Sesame Street.

Directed by Iraqi filmmaker, Thamer Al Zaidi, the film is based on a 12th century Arabic classic titled Hai bin Yaqzan, authored by Arab writer, Ibn Toufyl. It tells the story of an infant raised by a deer after being abandoned in the woods. Eventually, the young boy starts to examine the ways of nature and the universe around him and embarks on a search for the maker of all things.

The original story is said to have been the prototype for Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. The author, Ibn Toufyl, was one of the outstanding philosophers and scientists of his day, and the book reflects his concerns and ideologies.
The film uses a combination of traditional 2D animation and modern computer-generated 3D animation. Several popular Arab stars including Ghanim Al Suleity, Sanaa Younis, Fathiyya Ibrahim and Abdul Nasser Al Zayer have lent their voices to the film.

“We do not have a history of animation like the Japanese or Americans, so we cannot really compare the first pan-Arab production with those established traditions,” says Masoud Amralla Al Ali, programmer of the Dubai International Film Festival’s Arabian Nights segment. Amralla, who is also the founder-director of the Emirates Film Competition and the artistic director of the UAE Cultural Foundation added that this film would encourage more Arab filmmakers to break new ground. “It is a well-crafted film, and is sure to have strong inter-generational appeal because of its story and its message.”

Dubai’s inaugural film festival was held between December 6 and 11, 2004. It featured approximately 75 films including features, retrospectives and short films. More than 70 noted Arab actors, producers and directors from Egypt, Syria and Kuwait graced the event. Celebrated Egyptian directors Ali Badrakhan, Hala Khalil and Mohammed Abdul-Aziz and producers Safwat Ghatas, Mohamed Hussein Ramzy and Mohamed Al-Subki attended the event along with Ali Abu Shadi, president of the Al Ismailia Film Festival in Egypt, Abdulrahman Hafiz, president of Egyptian Media Production City, and Mamdooh Al Laithi, head of the Egyptian Cinematic Arts Union.

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