African films at DIFF 2009 heavy on social realism

Sun Dec 13,2009

African films showing at the Dubai International Film Festival 2009 feature narratives with strong contemporary social realities and the predicaments facing people caught in unexpected situations.

Accomplished Egyptian producer and actress Faten Hamama, who collects a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s festival, provided another feather in the continent’s cap. It is milestone for DIFF too, as she becomes the first ever woman recipient of the honour in the festival’s six-year history.

Nashen Moodley, Director-AsiaAfrica programme, said the team that made the selection for the second edition of the Muhr AsiaAfrica Awards was impressed by the creative richness of the film-making as well as the integration of modern technology.

“The selection proves the vitality of film-making in Africa. The films are a good blend of narrative brilliance and technical finesse,” he added.

Shirley Adams (Dec. 15, 4.15 pm; Cinestar 8, Mall of the Emirates) directed by Oliver Hermanus and set in Mitchell’s Plain in Cape Town, is a harrowing tale of single mother, Shirley Adams, whose son Donovan was paralysed in a shooting. Poverty-stricken Shirley must not only care for her son, but also try to get justice.

At the other end of the continent, Unlucky (Dec. 14, 1 pm, Cinestar 6) from Director Fatma-Zohra Zamoum, provides a brilliant insight into modern-day Algeria, through the viewpoint of three distinct protagonists, photographer Alia, ageing writer Cherif and taxi driver Farid. Zamoun, whose stylish film heralds a significant watermark in Algerian cinema, plays herself in this highly original and intriguing debut.

We Too Walked On The Moon (Dec. 15, 7.15 at Cinestar 7 and Dec. 16, 3.30 pm at Cinestar 9) from Congo and directed by Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda, depicts a teacher, doctor and artist experiencing news of the moon landing differently.

In the Muhr AsiaAfrica shorts category, Waramutseho from Cameroon (Dec. 14, 9.30 pm at Cinestar 7 and Dec. 15, 4.15 at Cinestar 11), directed by Kouemo Yanghu Auguste Bernard, features two friends who discover a bloody secret exists between their two families.

Full listings of films can be accessed via the DIFF website ( and downloaded on to your mobile phone.

DIFF is celebrating its sixth year at this year’s festival and is held in association with Dubai Studio City. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah are the principal sponsors of DIFF and the event is supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture).

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