Introducing the Dublin Arabic Film Festival (DAFF) 2014

Wed Apr 16,2014

The first event of its kind in Ireland, DAFF will take place at the Light House Cinema, Dublin from May 8 to 11, 2014.

With festival director Zhara Moufid at the helm, DAFF will celebrate some of the best feature films the Middle East has to offer and the filmmakers behind them, screening both new and older films, in addition to hosting a series of exclusive talks.

Acting legend Omar Sharif will attend the inaugural festival as guest of honour, alongside some of the hottest names in the Arab film industry as our special guests, including Hany Abu-Assad, the Palestinian director of the Oscar-nominated films Paradise Now and Omar.

There will also be screenings of Lawrence of Arabia and The Jacoubian Building at the Chester Beatty Library on May 10 and 11.


Six-time Academy Award nominee Jim Sheridan who serves as president of DAFF, met with Omar Sharif in Paris to confirm his attendance as guest of honour.

Jim Sheridan, who joined DIFF for the 10th edition to head up the Muhr Arab Feature competition, said it was seeing the movies of Iranian great Abbas Kiarostami and last year’s groundbreaking Saudi Arabian competition-winning movie Wadjda by Haifaa Al-Mansour that perked his interest in the region’s cinema. ‘There’s a voice in the way [the Middle East] is represented [in Hollywood], and I don’t like it,’ said the 64-year-old.’I just want some balance.’

 


Festival Guests

Omar Sharif

Our guest of honour, acting legend Omar Sharif, has starred in films including Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago and Funny Girl. In 2003, he received acclaim for his role in Monsieur Ibrahim.

Omar Sharif at the 6th edition of DIFF with Chairman Abdulhamid Juma

Hany Abu-Assad
Director Hany Abu Assad earned his and Palestine’s second Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category this year for his drama Omar; the first was his 2005 release, Paradise Now.

The Omar team win big at the 10th edition of DIFF

Nabil Ayouch

Nabil Ayouch, regarded by many as the leading Moroccan director of his generation, directed Horses of God (Les chevaux de Dieu), which was Morocco’s entry for the 2013 Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Director Nabil Ayouch attends the "Les Chevaux De Dieu" Photo Call during the 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Ahmad Abdalla

Egyptian director Ahmad Abdalla’s Rags and Tatters, a drama about the Tahrir Square protests, earned positive reviews in the international press and won the Grand Prix at the Montpellier Film Festival.

Ahmad Abdalla at the 7th edition of DIFF

Dr Jim Swire

Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the Lockerbie bombing in 1988, has spent more than 25 years fighting to unearth all the facts of the bombing that brought down Pan Am Flight 103, claiming 270 lives.


OPENING GALA
Monsieur Ibrahim (Monsieur Ibrahim et les Fleurs de Coran)

1. Director: François Dupeyron

Venue: The Light House Cinema                        

Thursday, May 8              Time: 8pm

The Dublin Arabic Film Festival is delighted to reveal that the screening of our opening film Monsieur Ibrahim will be followed by a Q&A with our guest of honour Omar Sharif.

A friendship between a young Jew and an elderly Muslim is at the core of this warm-hearted demonstration of Omar sharif's character-acting ability. In a working-class section of Paris in the 60s, and set to a unifying soundtrack of the times, they form an unlikely alliance cross-generational, cross-cultural alliance. Sharif is, simply, superb.

“Love appears in many forms, both in life and the movies. One of the most touching film incarnations on view recently comes in director Francois Dupeyron's "Monsieur Ibrahim," a gentle, sensuous French film about a Jewish boy's rite of passage and an old Muslim man's last journey.”

Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune

Rags and Tatters

Director: Ahmad Abdalla

Venue: The Light House Cinema                   

Friday, May 9                 Time: 6pm

The screening of Rags and Tatters will be followed by a Q&A with director Ahmad Abdalla.

After escaping years of incarceration, a nameless man tries to find his way home in a Cairo turned upside down by the protests of the Egyptian Revolution of January 25, 2011. As he revisits the family and country he has been separated from for so long, he finds that everything about life as he knew it has been irrevocably changed.

“Egyptian film-maker Ahmad Abdalla has given us a complex, nuanced, humane drama about the Tahrir Square protests…It came home to me that contemporary Egyptian cinema may be giving us more information about the Egyptian uprising than we'll ever get from the TV news.”
Peter Bradshaw
The Guardian

Horses of God (Les chevaux de Dieu)

Director: Nabil Ayouch

Venue: The Light House Cinema                        

Friday, May 9                 Time: 8:10pm

The screening of Horses of God will be followed by a Q&A with director Nabil Ayouch, chaired by the renowned Irish filmmaker Bob Quinn.

Nabil Ayouch's film is an intimate portrait of boys growing up in a toxic environment. Powerfully narrated and convincingly acted without talking down to any of its characters, God’s Horses takes the viewer inside an immense Moroccan slum and describes the no-future lives of its inhabitants; very gradually it gets around to showing how fundamentalist recruiters entrenched themselves there after 9/11 and used it as a hunting ground for terrorists and suicide bombers.

Deborah Young

The Hollywood Reporter

Selected as Morocco’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2014 Academy Awards.
Competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

They Are the Dogs (C’est Eux Les Chiens)

Director: Hicham Lasri

Venue: The Light House Cinema                        
Saturday, May 10               Time: 6:30pm

They Are the Dogs follows members of a television crew as they stumble across the story of an old man – Majhoul. His tragic tale dates back to 1981 during upheavals in Morocco, where he was arrested. Released 30 years later in 2011, he is now trying to come to terms with a new reality. The TV crew decides to report his journey as he sets off on a quest to find his family and his place in this new world. 

Lasri’s growing rep as a director who pushes stylistic and thematic envelopes, combined with noted colleague Nabil Ayouch’s involvement as producer, is likely to attract attention.
Variety

Dubai Film Festival (Muhr Arab Feature), Cannes Film Festival — Acid; Marrakech Film Festival.

Homeland

Director: Mohamed Hamidi

Venue: The Light House Cinema                        

Saturday, May 10                 Time: 8:30pm

A French-born son of Algerian immigrants is sent to the family’s ancestral village — even though he’s never been to Algeria or even speaks proper Arabic — in Homeland (Né quelque part), the feature debut of Mohamed Hamidi. Though it tackles very serious and sometimes almost contradictory topics, such as the desire of desperate young Algerians to leave their stagnant country and, conversely, the difficulties of a French-born Algerian to truly appreciate the beauties of his motherland, Hamidi manages to keep things surprisingly light and coherent for the most part. He’s greatly aided by terrific newcomer Tewfik Jallab as the straight-shooting lead and popular French-Moroccan comedian Jamel Debbouze, also a producer, as his village-idiot cousin.

The Hollywood Reporter

The Lion of the Desert

Director: Moustapha Akkad

Venue: The Light House Cinema                        

Sunday, May 11                 Time: 1pm

The screening of The Lion of the Desert will be followed by a coffee break before a discussion of the film, chaired by festival president Jim Sheridan and Dr Jim Swire, at the Red Room at 6:15pm.

Set against the backdrop of the Libyan Desert in 1929, this historical action film stars Anthony Quinn as tribal leader Omar Mukhtar, who becomes a key hero in the Libyan resistance to Italian Fascist invasion under the command of General Rodolfo Graziana (Oliver Reed). Despite its casting, Lion of the Desert is not a Hollywood film; directed by Moustapha Akkad, funded by Muammar Gaddafi and banned in Italy on its release in 1981, it is a Libyan story. Described by cinema historian Stuart Galbraith IV as "a fascinating look inside a facet of Arab culture profoundly significant yet virtually unknown outside North Africa and the Arab world", it is a highly cinematic epic adventure, featuring compelling performances, impressive battle scenes, and a wartime epic on a grand scale.

Omar

Director: Hany Abu-Assad

Venue: The Light House Cinema                        

Sunday, May 11                 Time: 7pm

The screening of Omar will be followed by a Q&A with director Hany Abu-Assad.

Omar, a young baker, is accustomed to dodging surveillance bullets to visit his secret love, Nadia. But occupied Palestine knows neither love nor clear-cut war. Omar is suddenly transformed into a freedom fighter. Suspicion and betrayal jeopardise his long-term friendship with Amjad and Tarek and Omar’s feelings are soon as torn as the Palestinian landscape. However, it’s evident that everything he does is for his love of Nadia.

Omar is a thriller and a romance with unabashedly melodramatic elements (there's even a love triangle), all of which are brought into stark relief by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Helped along by an amazing cast of mostly first-time actors, Omar feels very fresh due to its attitude, approach, and the fact that it offers no solutions. It's the story of three childhood friends caught up in a war that seemingly has no end.

Sheila O’Malley

RogerEbert.com

Winner Best Film and Best Director DIFF 2013, Winner Best Film Asia Pacific Screen Awards 2013, Winner of Un Certain Regard - Special Jury Prize Cannes 2013.

Dublin Arabic Film Festival, presented by Dubai Duty Free, will take place at The Light House Cinema in Smithfield from May 8 to 11.

For tickets and more information: http://dublinarabicfilmfestival.ie/

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