Among the must-watch films at DIFF 2010 are hard-hitting tales from the Arab world and Asia

Mon Dec 13,2010

Screening on Wednesday, Dec. 15 at 10 pm at Cinestar 9, Mall of the Emirates (MoE), is director Shuchen Tan’s ‘Baghdad Film School.’ The film is about Iraqi born filmmakers Maysoon Pachachi and Kasim Abid who developed the challenging idea to open up the first independent film school in Iraq. With a car loaded with video equipment, they undertook their dangerous journey from Amman to Baghdad and in March 2004 they opened up the doors of their school. Their mission was to give a voice to a new generation of Iraqi filmmakers and to let them tell their personal stories. ‘Baghdad Film School’ is a story about film making in a post-war environment and what it takes to be an independent filmmaker in a country tormented by violence.

Director Ariane Astrid Atodji’s ‘Koundi and the National Thursday,’ to be screened today (Tuesday, Dec. 14) at 3.15 pm at Cinestar 6 of MoE, is about Koundi, a large village with around 1,200 inhabitants. Aware of Koundi’s richness in timber, the villagers decide to use it to alleviate poverty. They organise a union, GIC (Organisation for Communal Interests) and finally obtain the right to install a small communal forestry operation. Gorgeously shot, the film is a heartfelt look at life inside a communal society that seeks to balance the demands of globalisation and the search for uniquely African solutions.

Screening on Dec. 15, 7 pm, at Cinestar 8 is director Jeong-hyun Mun’s ‘Yongsan,’ a stirring tale. On 20 January 2009, five tenants of the Yongsan district, who were forcefully evicted from their homes staged a sit-in and were burned to death in their apartment block. This personal essay documentary recalls the many movements of Korean civil rights and activism and asks where all the idealism went, even as the atrocities return today.

From the Arab world is ‘Zelal,’ a quiet masterpiece of hard-hitting reportage by directors Mustapha Hasnaoui and Marianne Khoury. The film has drawn global critical praise for its hard-hitting and sobering insight into the lives of those afflicted by mental illness in Egypt today. Filmed in two large asylums, the film reveals the horrific conditions in which patients are expected to live - squalor and neglect is endemic, staff are stretched beyond breaking point, therapy and treatment seems non-existent.
DIFF 2010 box office locations are: Cinestar Mall of the Emirates, Madinat Souk and the CNN Building in Dubai Media City. Tickets can also be purchased through DIFF’s Dial-a-Ticket service at (04) 391 3378 and from the website

The seventh edition of Dubai International Film Festival 2010, is held until Dec. 19 in association with Dubai Studio City. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah, the home of the Dubai International Film Festival, are the principal sponsors of DIFF. The event is supported by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.

For more and updated information about DIFF, please visit

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