Three students from Egypt, Jordan and UAE were awarded the top prizes at the MBC2 Movies in Motion 2008 competition.
The winning movies will be aired on MBC2 and MBC Max in the next two weeks to more than 40 million viewers around the world.
The second edition of the two minute movie competition received more than 100 entries from young amateur students in the Arab World reflecting creative directing and brilliant cinematography.
"We have been knocked out by the quality of this year's two minute movie competition.I believe the winner movie can compete in international contests," said Andrew Maskall, Senior Marketing Manager for Western Channels of MBC. "Thanks to the support from schools and universities across the region we have received over one hundred entries. The best entries are so good that we will be broadcasting them on MBC2 and MBC Max over the course of the next few weeks."
The participating movies were sent across from six countries including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and evaluated based on various criteria, including the creativity of the idea, strength of editing, direction, cinematograhy, acting, duration and overall impression.
"We have put a slightly larger weightage for the overall impression, because we do not intend to be a technical award. We are seeking talent", said Maskall.
The jury comprised teachers, representatives from MBC creative services and media experts, in addition to representatives from sponsors – Sony Ericsson and Cadillac.
Next year's competition will be open to public. The competition is in line with the new technology-aided trends, said Maskall.
"People are learning that technology can allow them to edit movies quite easily on their home computers. Editing is the process that makes the difference between a pont and shoot home movie recording and a sophisticated film making, and I think this is a message that everybody will be able to learn the language of filmmaking. This said, everybody can make a movie, just as everybody can write. In this sense, movie making is democratised."
The senior management was very impressed by the quality of the movies submitted this year, a further step up from the first edition which in itself was beyond our expectations", said Maskall.
"The region has real talented youth who will definitely be in the business. We are offering internships to the first and second prize winners, in addition to three training courses in film making at SAE, the international institute for film making and production."
Maskall said the next year's competition will be themed "2 actors, 2 locations, 2 minutes". "I believe two minutes is a time long enough to tell a story and short enough to download online", he explained.
Held for the second consecutive year, Movies in Motion is set to grow further to involve more students in the UAE and abroad across the region.
"This year we have had around 32 schools and universities, but we are aiming at receiving participations from 90 schools in 2009, with an additional focus on having a heavier proportion of students outside the UAE and all over the region."
The next edition of the competition is set to start in mid March 2009, with the awards ceremony being held during the Middle East International Film Festival next October.
"The main objective of the competition is to discover talent. But we are also looking to establishing a connection with our audience.
"From a branding perspective, this is about brand loyalty. MBC2 is currently viewed by a 70 per cent majority of Arab males between 15 and 24. Since we concentrate more on American movies, we sought to provide a more local perspective that relates to this audience."
Maskall added: "We also want to draw a wider mix of audience, by developing a softer brighter genre of content, in addition to our current line of action and horror genres."
Commenting on the third upcoming edition of the competition, Maskall said a principle agreement was made with the New York Film Academy.
"There are discussions about some changes in the process. Initially, during the first and the second editions, we requested students to write story boards, of which we shortlisted three from each school. Then we went to those schools to help students shoot their movies. This might change next year."
Maskall said telecom companies would be ideal partners to sponsor the 2009 competition, but he did not comment on whether talks were initiated.
Mobile TV channel
MBC Group might consider developing a special mobile TV channel in addition to its current bouquet, according to Andrew Maskall, Senior Marketing Manager at MBC2.
"I think this is where our project "Movies in Motion is heading", he said.
"Free-to-air TV channels are here to stay, but the audience will be having a more sophisticated media mix," added Maskall.