(CNN) – Its remote deserts and towering skyscrapers are already making Abu Dhabi a premiere backdrop for Hollywood films shot in the region.
Director Majid al Ansari wants the world to know, Emiratis can make their own movies too.
Enter the world of Zinzana, a new psychological thriller produced in the UAE. It’s about a man, locked in a jail cell, tormented by an evil character posing as a police officer.
Not the typical slapstick comedy or soap opera so commonly produced in the Middle East.
“I think the biggest kind of message I wanted to put out there with Zinzana was that we can think out of the box. And that’s what this film is,” said al Ansari.
Zinzana, al Ansari’s first feature film, premiered this year, it’s played at festivals around the world.
With its suspenseful dialogue and rhythmic cuts, some are already calling this 28-year-old former driver the Quentin Tarantino of the Middle East, “Amazing. It is unbelievable. In a sense, sometimes I wake up and I’m like, do I believe this?”
It took al ansari a year-and-a-half to make Zinzana, Abu Dhabi’s image nation produced the film.
While budget and censorship are not a challenge here, he says, getting local residents into theaters could be, “Unfortunately, a lot of Arab audiences don’t believe in Arab films.
The gulf region doesn’t have a big local film industry, Al Ansari hopes to change that.
He says you don’t need a political message to do it, just a good story that entertains. So vital, he says, for parts of the Middle East torn apart by conflict, “I wanted to give them something that’s different than their current situation. Fingers crossed, it gives them that one hour and half to escape the troubles there in.
Escape into a gripping plot and not just the cinematic backdrop of the UAE.
Copyright CNN 2015