The production house Image Nation is known for taking part in and producing a number of globally-recognised films as it aims to build a sustainable film and television industry in the UAE and create opportunities for young Emiratis to build a career in the sector. Some of its films, which include The Help, My Name is Khan, Men in Black 3 and Ali Mustafa’s From A to B, have been nominated for an Oscar. In January 2019, it announced that its production Free Solo has been nominated for an Oscar award in the Best Documentary Feature category. It was produced by the Abu Dhabi house alongside Parkes and MacDonald and has broken records at the US box office. It tells the story of professional rock climber Alex Honnold as he attempts to complete the first free solo climb of the famed 900-metre vertical rock face El Capitan at Yosemite National Park in California. In the same month, Image Nation revealed its Emirati legal TV drama series Justice, which is also produced by Beelink Productions, was made available on Netflix. The series was first aired on pay-TV platform OSN in September 2017 after the firm struck a deal with distributor IM Global Television for the show’s Middle East premiere rights.
There is an incredibly bright future ahead for regional creativity
A legal family drama, it is thought to be the most expensive Emirati TV production ever staged, according to Image Nation CEO Michael Garin, and is based on real-life cases from the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, which partnered on the production for authenticity. In December 2018, Netflix also acquired global rights to Image Nation’s feature film, The Worthy, which premiered at the 60th BFI London Film Festival in 2016. It is set in a dystopian future which has been plunged into chaos due to a chronic water shortage.
Last year, Image Nation partnered with Futurism, a web science and technology publication, to develop and produce feature films and documentaries, along with scripted and unscripted television series. The companies will also collaborate across existing platforms to market and distribute content. This will include Quest Arabiya, Image Nation and Discovery Communication’s free-to-air factual entertainment television channel broadcasting across MENA and Mostaqbal, Futurism’s Arabic-language content portal. In May, it also joined forces with Saudi Arabia’s O3 Productions, part of broadcast giant MBC Group, to co-finance and co-produce four Saudi films. In November, its feature film Shabab Sheyab became the first GCC film to play in cinemas in the country following the lifting of its decades-long ban.