Courage and resilience, wishful dreaming and voyages of self-discovery: features and shorts at GFF

Wed Mar 12,2014

The Gulf Film Festival (GFF), the festival dedicated to celebrating and showcasing the best in Arab cinema, has announced eight shorts and features from its 2014 line-up that tell a selection of poignant stories from Iraq to Saudi Arabia. The seventh edition of GFF is set to take place at the Dubai Community Theatre & Arts Centre (DUCTAC) and Vox Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates, from April 9th to April 15th.

From Iraq, Khalid Alzhraou’s documentary Ten Years of My Life follows the lives of Iraqi women of different religions and ethnicities during 10 decisive years in their lives from Saddam Hussein’s downfall in 2003 through to 2013. The compelling film explores what life means for women in Iraq. Rain on Jeekor, a short by Joudi Alkinani, is a biographical film on the life of the renowned Iraqi poet Badr Shakir Al-Sayyab (1926-1964).

Ali Kareem, an Iraqi film director and screenwriter, will be presenting two projects at the festival. Mehdi is about a young Iraqi boy who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, surrounded by the savagery of war whilst Matchbox is about Michael, a man who has spent his life running away from responsibility. After causing an accident, he attempts to hide away only to be found by a young boy who befriends him.

Whispers of the Cities combines three emotionally-linked stories, and was shot over 10 years in three different cities – Ramallah in the West Bank, Erbil in Kurdistan and Baghdad in Iraq. The director, Kasim Abid films “window diaries” in the places he travels to, exploring the courage and resilience seen through peoples’ actions, the struggles they face and the changes that have happened through war and destruction.

Two thought-provoking films from Iraqi filmmakers tackle the struggles faced by Kurdistan families during the 20th century. Home and Key from Iraqi filmmaker Shwan Attoo is a harrowing look at the death of a Kurdish family and Record by Hawraz Mohammed tells the real life stories of an elderly mother and father through video in order to send their son who after escaping the civil war and poverty lives abroad.

From Yemen, prominent filmmaker Khadija Al-Salami returns with the brave documentary Killing Her is a Ticket To Paradise tells the story of the young, outspoken writer Bouchra Al Maqtari, who writes an article, expressing her disappointment in the broken dream of freedom and democracy. Bouchra’s writing becomes a serious threat to her family and herself.

Al-Tohoor by Anwar Alruzaiqi tells the story of a rural village on the cusp of the end of the 1970’s. In this village, traditions and customs prevail, however things change when an unprecedented event takes place and changes the dynamics of the village. In Saudi Arabia’s filmmaker Ahmed Mousa Albinhumdah’s Stone, a man who follows a typical routine gets paid to do something unusual, prompting him to wonder about the meaning of life.

Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Gulf Film Festival Director said: “The films in this year’s line-up are hard-hitting and emotive, showcasing impressive storytelling from different parts of the Middle East. A significant number of the films deal with the personal and community repercussions of instability and unrest in the Arab world, whilst others examine traditions and social conventions that pervade societies. The films, both in and out of competition, continue to be innovative, inspiring and thought-provoking, and are sure to strike a chord with audiences at GFF.”

Entry to all films is free of charge. For more details, please visit

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