Dubai Intl Film Festival

Khalifa struggles to hide his half-Filipino identity from his Emirati schoolmates. Eventually, he secretly befriends a Filipina cleaner at his school. However, when the school bullies discover his secret, Khalifa is forced to make a choice - stand up for his Filipino heritage or succumb to peer pressure?

Director: Ahmad Al-Tunaiji

Camera: Blackmagic URSA

Lenses: Zeiss CP.2

November 2016

During my 2nd project abroad in Abu Dhabi, I helped a great visionary student director, Ahmad, tackle race issues plaguing the United Arab Emirates. Even during my first trip to the country, I could sense the subtle racial bias against the vast numbers of Filipinos who live there by the full blooded Emirates. This project brings the issue to the forefront. I sought to give the school this film takes place in a cold and empty feeling. The school restroom, however, I gave a slightly warmer tone, as it was a place of refuge for Khalifa and his Filipina friend to convene. At least, until the bullies catch wind. Those scenes were actually incredibly difficult to light, taking 6 talented student crewmembers nearly 3 hours to assemble an intricate network of over 10 different light sources in the space the size of a tiny New York bedroom.