Breezy stories of hope and gripping reality in Arab film selection at DIFF 2009

Mon Dec 14,2009

The Arab movies being screened at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) 2009 mostly derive their inspiration from real life, picturising undiluted war-torn strife, along with a generous dollop of stories of hope – of peace and living in harmony.

DIFF Director of Arab Programme, Erfan Rashid, said: “The canvas of Arab movies is sweeping and the subject matter is picked from the life around us. Naturally, several of the narratives are about war and strife, themes traditionally associated with Arab cinema. This year, there is richer creativity, with more youngsters coming to the fore, and providing us with lighter and breezier portrayals of everyday life.”

The debut of Cherien Dabis is a much-awaited movie, Amreeka (Dec. 15, 2.15pm, First Group Theatre), which chronicles the adventures of Muna, a single mother who leaves the Palestinian West Bank with Fadi, her teenage son, with dreams of an exciting future in the promised land of small-town Illinois.

A Dubai Film Connection 2007 project, Amreeka made its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win the prestigious FIPRESCI International Federation of Film Critics prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Nassim Amaouche’s debut feature Farewell Gary (Dec. 15, 1pm, Cinestar 7, Mall of the Emirates) awarded the Critics Week Prize at Cannes, is a poetic film dwelling on the life, hopes and dreams of a family in a post-industrial French suburb. The film features a brilliant French-Arab cast that includes Jean-Pierre Bacri, Dominique Reymond, Yasmine Belmadi and Alexandre Bonnin.

The lives of three women clash when they take the same bus for a day’s journey inland to a Beirut men’s prison in Everyday is a Holiday (Dec. 16, 4pm, Cinestar 1), directed by Dima El-horr. Together, the women face a terrifying catastrophe along the way. The film was screened as part of the Discovery segment at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.

Swel Noury and Imad Noury’s The Man Who Sold The World (Dec. 15, 6.45pm, Cinestar 5) set in a war-torn zone is a modern day interpretation of the classic Dostoevsky story “A weak heart”, which narrates the journey of a young man who gives up his idyllic existence for a nightmarish spiral into insanity.

Two football-themed movies, One-Zero from Egypt, set against the backdrop of the nail-biting 2008 African Nations Cup final, and Kick Off, in which a friendly football match turns into tragedy, provide a sporty feel to this year’s festival.

Kamla Abu Zekry’s pacy treatment of One-Zero (Dec. 15, 10.15pm, Cinestar 9), is reminiscent of the classic era of Egyptian cinema. Filmmaker Shawkat Amin Korki’s Kick Off (Dec. 15, 8pm, Cinestar 9) sees an idealist, Asu, arranging a football match between Kurdish and Iraqi boys living in a half-destroyed Iraqi football stadium. It won the New Currents prize on its debut at Pusan Film Festival and Dubai is its second screening.

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

DIFF 2009 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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