Your guide to Saadiyat Island's Cinema Space

We check out the programme of free twice-weekly independent screenings

For many of us, our cinematic experiences are limited to whatever latest blockbuster Hollywood has churned out starring that actor from that film we liked.

But we do ourselves a disservice, missing out on decades of incredible films with the power to change how we see the world around us.

Don’t worry, though, the solution might just lie with Cinema Space, an independent weekly film screening initiative in Abu Dhabi.

Each week, hundreds of movie fans in the capital descend on Manarat Al Saadiyat to enjoy a range of flicks; from all-time cinematic classics to arty offerings from international filmmakers.

For organiser Mohammad Khawaja, who founded this alternative silver screen offering in 2014, broadening the capital’s horizons is a labour of love borne out of an appreciation of the power of cinema.

He said: “The idea is for people to discover restored classics and contemporary world cinema, which they may never otherwise have known even existed.

“It’s a community venture at its heart and it’s about encouraging people to give a chance to films they might not be familiar with but are truly worth discovering.

“I always say it doesn’t matter when a film was made, it’s always brand new if you’ve never seen it before.”

Screenings take place twice a week in the auditorium of the Saadiyat Island cultural hub, usually on Mondays and Saturdays, and are free to attend.

The films alternate between restored classics, world cinema and family programmes, ensuring there’s something for film fans of all ages and tastes.

September's offerings included Spanish love story Chico y Rita on October 20, plus the fantastic South Korean thriller Train To Busan on October 27.

Often, Abu Dhabi’s international embassies, including the Korean Cultural Centre and the Embassy of Spain, will join forces with Cinema Space to host their own screenings.

And Mohammad works hard to create an inclusive atmosphere in the 225-capacity theatre, encouraging people to bring their friends and their own snacks.

He added: “Before 2014, there was nowhere in Abu Dhabi which showcased cinema like this and I thought it was a great shame.

“I think there is a huge appetite in the city among movie fans, whether they’re old or young, an expat or a UAE national. We get all types of people coming to the screenings and they’re open to everyone.

“It’s a unique experience for people to discover all sorts of bold and remarkable films, actors and directors from across
the world.”

You can sign up for Cinema Space screenings and learn more about the October and November line-up through
the official website.

Free. Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island

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