DIFF 2009 lifts curtain on ‘Cinema of the World’ line-up featuring 24 most anticipated films

Sat Nov 14,2009

Brand-new dramas, rock documentaries, animation and comedy from Australia to Zanzibar among the eclectic line-up for December

More than 20 brand new, all-star and independent films from around the world will screen in Dubai as part of Cinema of the World line-up for the sixth Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF).

The segment this year features gritty dramas and controversial documentaries from Denmark, France and Peru; entertaining family films and comedies from the United States and Canada, and a rich crop of music-focused offerings from Australia to Zanzibar.

New releases from established directors and actors including Spain’s Pedro Almodovar, Jim Sheridan, Annette Bening, Samuel Jackson, Drew Barrymore, Juliette Lewis, Geoffrey Rush, comedian Chris Rock and musician Jack White are also confirmed for Dubai debuts.

DIFF Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali said the unveiling of the programme has been eagerly awaited in regional and international circles following significant changes in the global film industry and the rising popularity of film festivals across the Middle East.

“We are very pleased to once again offer an outstanding slate of feature films, documentaries and shorts from around the world to our diverse audience groups across the UAE,” he said. “Despite the intense competition this year and radical changes in our industry, the stronger and larger DIFF 2009 programme is a measure of our global reach and reputation and the unmatched calibre of our team.”

Sheila Whitaker, DIFF Director of International Programming, said the selection is a pick of the best of contemporary world cinema and reflects topical themes as well as those of interest to local populations. “The 2009 Cinema of the World segment offers something for everyone, balancing weighty subjects and intense treatments with lighthearted comedies and fun family films,” she said. “From independent and arthouse films to studio projects, this is an opportunity to see rare and quality films that have not screened in this part of the world.”

The segment’s most anticipated films include red-carpet gala screener Mother and Child by writer-director Rodrigo García, with A-list stars Naomi Watts, Annette Bening and Samuel L. Jackson; Peruvian entry The Milk of Sorrow, the story of Peru’s civil unrest in the 1980s and winner of the coveted Golden Bear for Best Picture at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival, directed by Claudia Llosa Bueno; and Welcome, a French drama by Philippe Lioret, depicting the controversial story of an Iraqi-Kurdish asylum seeker trying to reach the United Kingdom from France by swimming across the English Channel.

Other acclaimed films include Denmark’s The Little Soldier, directed by Annette K. Olesen, which takes on the issue of human trafficking through the story of a young female soldier who works as a chauffeur for her father’s Nigerian girlfriend and escort girl; investigative documentary Picture Me: A Model’s Diary, a backstage expose of life in the Paris, New York and Milan fashion industry  and Moloch Tropical, the French-Haitian critique by Raoul Peck on absolute power and political madness.

War drama Brothers, directed by six-time Oscar nominee Jim Sheridan and starring the young talent of Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman, is also expected to draw much interest.

Thriller fans will not be disappointed with Moon, a brilliant and spooky science fiction tale of a solitary lunar employee who experiences a personal crisis as the end of his three-year stint nears. The film stars Sam Rockwell with Kevin Spacey as the voice of his computer, and is the first feature film of director Duncan Jones.

Director Tarik Saleh’s Metropia, a dark futuristic animated Swedish feature voiced by  Vincent Gallo and Juliette Lewis, tells the story of a post-oil Europe connected by a vast subway system. Fans of Oscar-winning director Pedro Almodovar and Penelope Cruz will also see the director-actor team reunited in Broken Embraces, a story of darkness, passion, love and tragedy with lead actor Lluis Homar in attendance.

Gustave Reininger, the creator of the hit NBC TV drama series Crime Story, is showcasing Corso: The Lost Beat, a documentary trailing Gregory Corso, the last of the four great Beat poets, while 1981 is a nostalgic and amusing remembrance of childhood by Canadian writer-director Ricardo Trogi. The feature entry from Norway, Nord (North), is a snow-road movie comedy, directed by Rune Denstad Langlo, in which a former athlete travels by snow scooter to visit his ex-girlfriend and his son five years after a mental breakdown.  The film won its director the Best New Narrative Filmmaker laurel at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

On the fun front, Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut Whip It!, a feel-good sports movie about a young girl who secretly swaps boring beauty pageants for the excitement and camaraderie of a roller skating derby, is already drawing rave reviews on the festival circuit.

DIFF 2009 will also screen comedian Chris Rock’s investigative – and hilarious - documentary Good Hair and Wes Andeerson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, the first stop-motion animation film from 20th Century Fox. The classic story by Roald Dahl is brought to life by an all-star cast including George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe and Owen Wilson, while Rock’s funny, fascinating and heartbreaking look at African-American hair and the implications of popular hair trends has already prompted much discussion in the United States.

The Cinema of the World segment also features five music-themed films including director Gergely Fonyo’s Made in Hungaria, the highly entertaining story of a U.S.-raised teenybopper who teaches his Communist-era peers about rock ‘n’ roll when the family moves back to Hungary in the 1960s; Zanzibar Musical Club, a superb documentary exploration of Zanzibar’s rich musical heritage by Patrice Nezan; Oil City Confidential, Julien Temple’s loving and amusing documentary on Dr. Feelgood, the 1970s UK band which revolutionised rock music with energy, passion and excitement; and The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights, a road movie and concert tour film that follows the legendary band across their Canadian expedition, filmed by Emmett Malloy.

Bran Nue Dae, director Rachel Perkins’s film version of the acclaimed Australian stage musical, will also be screened at DIFF in December 2009, ahead of its theatrical release in Australia in January 2010. The popular film made its international premiere in Toronto in September and has won audience awards at both the Toronto and Melbourne International Film Festivals. DIFF 2009 will also premiere Woodstock, the restored and extended version of the award-winning 1970 rock documentary directed by Michael Wadleigh charting the performances and events of the legendary three-day festival.

The entry from Korea, Ulrike Ottinger’s superbly nuanced, wry and sensitive film Korean Wedding Chest provides a fascinating overview of romance and marriage in modern-day Korea, contrasting the traditional with the new, while the Spanish feature Hammada by Anna M. Bofarull is set in the Saharan desert, dealing with the lives of the disposed Saharaui people through the figure of Dadah, a young boy who lives in the refugee camp of Dajla.

Now in its sixth year, DIFF 2009 is held in association with Dubai Studio City and supported by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, and will be held from December 9 to 16. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah are the principal sponsors.

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