MOST seven-year-olds dreaming of stardom set their sights on the next school play rather than Hollywood.
But that’s the direction little Katherine Abuaglain is heading after her name went up in lights at the world’s most prestigious film festival.
The Preston Street Primary School pupil was recognised in Cannes for her role in a short drama filmed on the streets of the Capital.
Bra-et Al Rouh – or Innocence of the Spirit – directed by Queen Margaret University lecturer Walid Salhab, tells the story of a young Palestinian girl’s meeting with a homeless man.
Despite her previous acting experience being limited to the school stage, Katherine wowed the judges and scooped the glittering honour at The Indie Fest for independent film.
She said: “I’m so excited to have been in the film, the children at my school think it’s really good that I was in it. When I grow up I might want to be an actress.
“My teacher put it on YouTube and they played the trailer for the film in school.”
Katherine lives with her dad Waseem, 42, who is studying a masters in tourism and hospitality at Edinburgh Napier University, and her brother Jozeph, 12, in Prestonfield Road.
Waseem said: “I was very happy and excited – Katherine was jumping up and down, it’s such an achievement and we are all so proud of her.
“I knew Walid through friends, but just as an acquaintance, and he didn’t know I had a daughter.
“Somebody got us together because they knew he was looking for actors for the film and I had a daughter about the right age for the role.
“I was very happy to let her do it because I really liked the story and I thought she would be really good.
“When I watched the film, I was left in silence – it was very emotional and something that makes you think about things deeply, about people and their experiences or their suffering.”
Director Walid was also recognised for the ten-minute film, which had no budget at all, when he picked up the Award of Merit at the prestigious Best Shorts Competition.
The film stars co-producer Robert Welsh as the homeless man and Aidin Poori as Katherine’s father, while Portobello-based musician Mairi Campbell contributed the soundtrack.
Walid, who is in Cannes ahead of the film’s premiere tomorrow, said: “I was worried about working with children before but Katherine put me and the rest of the crew at ease.
“She behaved like a professional all the way.”
Among the greats
KATHERINE and Walid are in star company on this year’s Cannes bill.
Director Alexander Payne, the man behind About Schmidt, which premiered in Competition at Cannes and opened the New York Film Festival, will lead the film jury.
Also taking their places on the panel are Scots actor Ewan McGregor, fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier and actress Diane Kruger.
The films being shown include David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, which sees hot-shot Eric Packer, played by Robert Pattinson, become obsessed with getting a haircut at his barber’s and convinced someone is going to assassinate him.
Also on the bill is the Ken Loach film The Angel’s Share.