We speak to S. A. Zaidi about his Emirati sci-fi Netflix hit, Aerials

Aerials transmits an important message to other content creators in the region…

We caught up with UAE-based director S. A. Zaidi to get some insider info on his first feature film, Aerials, now showing on Netflix, and to see if we could dig up any exclusives on his next project, an Emirati horror movie.

Aerials actually hit cinema screens with a limited release back in 2016, but it became available to a wider audience when it was added to the Netflix streaming platform in May of this year.

The movie is a perfect, although eerily relatable, fit for pandemic viewing as the story deals with a couple’s isolation in Dubai following an alien invasion.

Disconnected from the world, and faced with the possibility of human extinction, they dive within to explore how culture has shaped the differences in their understanding of science and reality.

Aerials stars Iraqi-Canadian actor Sagar Al Yasery in the lead role, with support from veteran Emirati actor, Mansoor AlFeel.

Speaking about the idea behind the movie, director S. A. Zaidi told What’s On 

“This film was an experiment, meaning even its screenplay was mostly exploratory’

“Science as a subject worldwide might be the same, but it’s perceived differently in different parts of the world, and most scientific facts are held and interpreted differently in different cultures”

The UAE has a natural claim to be a staging point for the confluence of ideas, often representing both a geographical and a conceptual meeting of east and west.

But what of life beyond earth’s hemispheres? We asked S. A. Zaidi whether he believes aliens really are out there

“I’m not sure if we have been visited yet, but our galaxy and the universe itself must be full of Life. I have no doubt about it.”

“For thousands of years, Europeans and Asians believed there was no land out there in the far west, let alone people. And then one day, they found America.”

The script for Zaidi’s next project, a sci-fi horror movie also filmed in the UAE, is finished and although currently under wraps — we were able to tease out a few exciting details

“The next film is going to be shot in 8k resolution on a Large Format camera”

Zaidi also dropped a clue about what the movie might be about, “you will see some fashion inspired by the recent Covid19 pandemic in it.”

The director also had some inspirational advice for any aspiring filmmakers in the region

“Film school will teach you almost Nothing. It’s really important to hold a Camera and practically go and film things out there.”

“Most filmmakers believe what they do is magic. They will never tell you what they really know. Which is why it’s really important for students to experiment and find out things on their own.”

“You can never know enough, ever. There is always more to learn and a better movie to make.”

Which, we feel, applies quite neatly to most things in life.

You can watch Aerials on Netflix now.