Feast of Multicultural Films on Festival’s Second Day

Sat Dec 04,2004

Fans of international cinema are in for a treat on Tuesday, December 7, the second day of the inaugural Dubai International Film Festival, as more than 10 films from the subcontinent, Eastern Europe, the Philippines and the Middle East will make their debuts in Festival venues around the city.

The highlights of the Festival’s second day include the gala red-carpet screening of Bollywood/Hollywood, the new romantic drama from Indo-Canadian director Deepa Mehta. The film, set in Toronto, focuses on a young man trying to balance his North American and Indian ties in his search for a life partner. Mehta, whose film Fire created a stir in India, will be present at the 8 pm gala along with Rahul Khanna, the male lead in the film.

Also on the must-see list is Filipino film Milan, the story of a group of Filipino immigrants struggling to make a new life in Italy. Guaranteed to strike a chord with expatriates from any corner of the world, the film follows the efforts of a young man heading for foreign shores in search of his fiancee and his efforts to blend into Italian society and fit in with his community of compatriots while trying to send money home. Director Olivia Lamasan will be at the screening.

The Arab world is very well represented on Tuesday, with Moroccan feature In Casablanca, Angels Don’t Fly; Lebanese drama Ring of Fire and a program of Arabian short films.

A winner at the Cannes Film Festival, In Casablanca also revolves around an immigrant theme, this time following three men from a small North African village who move to Casablanca in the hopes of finding their fortune, only to end up as poorly paid waiters. The film has Arabic and Berber dialogue, with English subtitles.

Ring of Fire, set in 1980s Beirut, is partly a study of a society under duress and partly a portrait of humanity. When a university literature class is interrupted by a street clash, the professor is forced to take refuge in a dark underground room with students he does not recognize. A flirtation he begins there eventually throws his entire life into disarray.

Tuesday’s Arabian Shorts program is also sure to be a crowd-pleaser. The first film, Visit Iraq, focuses on Western attitudes towards Arabs and the Iraqi war by observing the neighbors of the deserted Iraqi Airlines office; the second, Ashes, highlights the differences between generations at a burial; and the third, Van Express, follows two Lebanese youth in a search for creative job opportunities.

Based on one of the most celebrated novels in Bangladeshi literature, the film Lalsalu (A Tree Without Roots) will also be screened as part of the Festival’s offerings on Tuesday. Set in the 1940s, the film is an exceptional portrait of rural Muslim life. Director-scriptwriter Tanvir Mokammel will be at the screening for a pre- and post-show introduction and discussion.

Award-winning Pakistani film Khamosh Pani (Silent Waters) will also be screening on Tuesday. A powerful study of the effects of the State on the lives of individuals, the film charts the life of a widow living in Pakistani Punjab who finds her family swept up in the aftermath of political events beyond her control. Both director Sabiha Sumar and star Kiron Kher will be at the screening.

Also from the subcontinent is madcap Indian comedy Raghu Romeo, with a special appearance by lead actor Vijay Raaz. This simple but affectionate tale of a naive and bumbling waiter in love with a television character and the efforts he makes to rescue her is sure to be a favorite with the Indian community

Three DIFF box offices are currently open for business: at the CNN Building Lobby in Dubai Media City from 11 am to 6 pm until December 6, and until 8 pm during the Festival; at the Madinat Theatre in the Souk at Madinat Jumeirah from 11 am to 9 pm until December 6 and until 10.30 pm during the Festival; and at the Mercato mall from 10 am to 6.30 pm until December 6, and until 10.30 pm during the Festival.

Additional box offices will open on December 7 at the Madinat Arena, and at the Auditorium at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel on December 8.

Prices range from Dh. 10 for the four open-air “Screen on the Green” films (Lawrence of Arabia, Gagamboy (Spiderman), Mr. India and Five Children and It) at the Dubai Media City amphitheater to Dh. 20 for regular screenings at DIFF main venues and Dh. 50 for the red-carpet gala screenings at the Madinat Arena, Madinat Jumeirah Arabian Resort-Dubai. Two special offers – student discounts and a Five-Flick deal that offers a set of five regular screening tickets for the price of four – have also been created to make the Festival accessible to all UAE residents and visitors.

Telephone bookings and orders can be made with the Box Office on (04) 367 6701 / (04) 367 6707 for advance bookings and directions to box office venues.

The Dubai International Film Festival will be held between December 6 and 11, 2004, and will feature approximately 75 films including features, retrospectives and short films. The Festival is divided into 10 distinct programs, each focusing on a particular Festival theme. DIFF is presented by Dubai Media City and its presenting sponsors are Dubai Duty Free, Emirates, Madinat Jumeirah Arabian Resort-Dubai, and Nakheel.  DIFF Gold Sponsors are DOM International, The Kanoo Group and National Bank of Dubai, and Silver Sponsors are Arabian Radio Network, Atlas Telecom, Dubai Radio Network, E-Vision and Motivate Publishing.

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