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MUHR ASIAAFRICA SHORTS INVITE VIEWERS INTO ALTERNATE WORLDS

Thu Nov 21,2013

The shortlist of films that will vie for the prestigious Muhr AsiaAfrica Short Film awards at this year’s Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) were announced today, unveiling a lineup of exhilarating cinema from Turkey to Ghana, India to China.

“The Muhr AsiaAfrica Awards were established in 2008 to nurture cinema from emerging markets, and this year’s shortlisted entries prove that filmmakers from Asia and Africa are more than equal to the challenge,” said DIFF’s Director of AsiaAfrica Programming, Nashen Moodley.

He continued: “The ten films in the Muhr AsiaAfrica shorts programme were selected out of hundreds of applicants. We are proud to offer these excellent filmmakers a platform to reach a wider audience, and DIFF audiences will surely enjoy the vibrant energy that runs throughout the selected films. These directors are ones to watch for the future.”

The worlds created in the films not only hold a mirror up to reality, but invent their own, playing with the surreal and the real at the same time. From Burkina Faso, award-winning director and actor Cedric Ido brings “Twaaga”, inspired by comic book superheroes, as his previous short Hasaki Ya Suda was inspired by samurai films. Twaaga follows eight-year-old Manu whose older brother Albert undergoes a ceremony to become invincible. Manu realizes there are real powers that rival those of his superhero idols.

Delving into similarly metaphysical territory, Akosua Adoma Owusu’s mysterious “Kwaku Ananse” interweaves the West African traditional figure of Ananse, the god of storytelling, with the story of a young outsider who returns to her father’s native Ghana for his funeral. Her ambivalence at his having two families - one in Ghana and one in the United States - leads her to retreat to the spirit world, where she learns the truth about human relationships.

Shalin Sirkar’s “Minesh” arrives at DIFF from the Venice Film Festival with the story of a young boy who runs away from home after witnessing violence between his parents. Taken in by substance-abusing street kids, he enters a delirium where he learns about justice, vengeance, and the way back home.

Turkish producer-director Tunc Sahin has entered “Just For One Day”, a tale of secrets and confrontation. When Can, a young intern at an advertising agency, tires of the hypocrisy of his colleagues he confronts them at a public dinner. He is smuggled to safety by a sympathetic colleague, who finds out Can’s secret knowledge runs deeper than she thinks.

Multi-talented Kazakh director Askhat Kuchencherekov won a Best Actor award for the AsiaAfrica Feature Tulpan at DIFF in 2008. He returns this year with “Promise”, where a young boy and his father journey to see a lake that the boy has dreamed of seeing for years. On the way, they encounter difficulties, and the father’s promise may remain unfulfilled.

In Chinese director Khaidi Zhan’s “Pool Man”, an overweight boy desperate for love and a former national swimmer struggling to regain his past glory inspire each other to lead better lives.

Korean director Halla Kim’s “The Way Back” depicts a man who finds the care of his aging relative increasingly burdensome, so he hatches a plan to have the old man admitted to a home by faking senility.

Sandeep Ray brings “Thin Arms”, an intimate tale of an octogenarian woman undergoing invasive health treatments, and her increasing obsession with the mango tree outside her window.

Ivorian director Philippe Lacote’s “To Repel Ghosts” reenacts the spiritually restorative journey of African-American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat to the Ivory Coast shortly before his death.

Indonesian filmmaker Yusuf Radjamuda’s intriguing film “Backyard” features a simple scene of a child playing alone in the backyard of his house while his mother is busy with housework.

The Muhr AsiaAfrica Awards will be announced at the closing ceremonies of the tenth edition of DIFF, to be held December 6 to 14, 2013.

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