DOCUMENTARIES AT THE DUBAI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: ORIGINALITY AND URGENCY
Sat Nov 24,2007
Dubai, November 24, 2007: The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) today announced the line-up for its Destination Documentary segment, encouraging filmgoers to embrace other outlooks, distinctive perspectives and some of the burning issues of our time.
Simon Field, DIFF’s Artistic Director of International Programming, pointed out: “Documentaries are growing in popularity around the world, even outdoing fiction films at the box office. These filmmakers are pushing the boundaries of what constitutes documentary as a genre, making for engaging new ways of telling stories. They are also bringing us news of some of the most urgent questions of our time, from perspectives that we don’t get through our television news.”
The 11th Hour, narrated and produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, is one example. It is a passionate appeal for us to look at our world, its environment and the damage we are doing. It explores how we are living, our impact on the earth’s balance, and what we can do to change course, even at ‘the 11th hour.’ Leading thinkers from around the world weigh in: Mikhail Gorbachev, Stephen Hawking, sustainable design experts, and over 50 scientists and leaders who share concern over the most urgent issues facing our planet.
Encounters at the End of the World, from prolific German filmmaker and brilliant documentarian Werner Herzog, also looks at the environment, but from a typically personal and idiosyncratic perspective. As in his Grizzly Man (2005), Herzog’s chosen subjects are men and women living at extremes. In Encounters, Herzog travels to the South Pole to meet the inhabitants of McMurdo station, self-described ‘full-time travelers and part-time workers—professional dreamers.’ He uncovers the madness of penguins, the incredibly abundant species of life that subsist in the frozen wilderness, and the absurdity and profundity of life at the end of the world.
Another kind of journey, a more political and historical one, is taken in the recently Oscar-nominated A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman, An exploration of exile, memory, and democracy told through the memories of playwright, author and activist Ariel Dorfman, who was among a handful of survivors when Chile’s Allende government was toppled in a coup on September 11, 1973. From award-winning filmmaker Peter Raymont (Shake Hands with the Devil: the Journey of Romeo Dallaire), the film follows Dorfman as he addresses questions triggered by the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York, which he describes as an exploration of ‘how we in Chile grew from our ashes, how we dealt with our pain and overcame the legacy of terror.’
Made in Northern Uganda, the beautifully crafted War/Dance explores the way music and dance can transcend personal experiences of war, grief and pain. It tells the story of three children living in a displaced persons camp whose lives and families have been torn apart. Astonishingly, their innate optimism and hope is still intact, and when they are invited to compete in an annual festival, their journey to their nation’s capital is also an opportunity to regain a part of their childhood.
The very original Surya, From Eloquence to Dawn follows ten contemporary storytellers of different cultures as they co-create an epic story. Anthropologist/filmmaker Laurent Van Lancker travels from Slovakia to Vietnam via Turkey, Kurdistan, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Tibet and China, and the film reaches towards the depths of oral tradition, to the human imagination and the art of expression.
Destination Documentary is one of the many interesting programming segments at DIFF 2007, which will run from December 9 to 16, 2007.
DIFF’s Principal Sponsors are Emirates, Dubai Pearl, Dubai Duty Free, and Jumeirah.
The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) was launched in December 2004 under the theme: Bridging Cultures. Meeting Minds.
DIFF is held under the honorary Chairmanship of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. DIFF is a not-for-profit cultural event, presented and organised by the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority.
As the previous editions of DIFF have demonstrated, the Festival not only presents cinematic excellence from around the world, but is also an important high-profile platform for aspiring home-grown talent.
“Bridging Cultures. Meeting Minds,” has been hailed by all as a unique and relevant theme to promote better understanding and mutual respect between different communities and countries.
Since its inception, DIFF has become an important meeting point for international and regional filmmakers and industry professionals setting the foundation for potential future collaborations.
The past three editions of DIFF have presented more than 250 films, documentaries and shorts from more than 48 countries.
In 2006 the festival took place at the magnificent Madinat Jumeirah resort. As a further commitment of DIFF’s endeavours to facilitate greater opportunities for regional Arab talent, the Muhr Awards was launched. Another first for DIFF in 2006 was the setting up of the Industry Office, which was established with a view to exclusively assist the needs of all registered delegates.
The fourth edition of the Dubai International Film Festival will take place from December 9-16 and will present the best of Arab and international cinema in the feature film, shorts and documentary formats. Building on the success of last year, DIFF 2007 will also host the Muhr Awards and the Industry Office with new features.
For any further information and regular updates on DIFF 2007 please log on to www.dubaifilmfest.com
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