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Off the Beaten Track at DIFF

Fri Dec 08,2006

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) is a unique opportunity to see rare or non-commercial, independent films that are as entertaining and stimulating as Hollywood blockbusters, but which have a lower profile due to budget, country of origin, or subject matter.

These are the films that the festival is proud of, according to DIFF’s Artistic Director of International Programming, Simon Field: “In the international film industry, bigger is often seen as better, which is simply not always the case, and is an injustice to artists who have poured their creativity and work into smaller films. We have worked hard to provide our audiences with offerings that they might not otherwise see. We receive a lot of positive comments about our programming, and we find that it is these hidden gems that viewers tend to remember long after the festival is over.”

The following are just some of the films that enthusiastic viewers should watch for:

The Colour of Olives: Screening in the Arabian Nights programming section, Mexican director Carolina Rivas’ feature debut follows a Palestinian family that is separated from their schools, gardens and workplaces by the Israeli ‘separation wall.’ Part documentary, part re-enacted narrative, the film was shot using only natural light and communicates via beautiful, languid images of everyday details, as well as silent film style title cards.

The Colour of Olives will screen at 10:15 pm on Friday, December 15 at Mall of the Emirates Theatre 1 and 3:45 pm on Sunday, December 17 at Mall of the Emirates Theatre 7.

Bamako: In the dusty courtyard of a multi-family house in Mali, the IMF and World Bank are put on trial for impoverishing the continent of Africa. Actors and everyday Malians alike chime in with their stories of survival, and small scenes of domestic life take place in spite of the legal proceedings taking place in their midst. In a surreal film within a film, co-producer Danny Glover rides in with a posse of filmmaking cowboys, including Palestinian director Elia Suleiman. From one of the masters of African cinema.

Director Abderrahmane Sissako and producer Maji-da Abdi will be in attendance when the film screens on Wednesday, December 13 at 6:00 pm in Mall of the Emirates Theatre 10, and Friday, December 15 at 6:15 pm at Mall of the Emirates Theatre 11.

Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon: Part documentary, part drama, this South African film follows poet Keniloe as he searches for his friend, a Somali refugee, in the streets of Johannesburg. As his search continues, he speaks with an engaging variety of displaced people who have come to South Africa for refuge. An exploration of displacement in modern Africa from director Khalo Matabane, a rising new talent of South African film.

Khalo Matabane will be present at the film’s screening on Wednesday, December 13 at 3:45 pm at Mall of the Emirates Theatre 7.

Sound of the Soul: This moving documentary by Stephen Olsson is set at the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music in Morocco, a week-long concert that brings together musicians of all faiths in a celebration of music and inter-faith understanding. Footage of the musicians is interspersed with religious leaders and scholars, as well as representatives from the World Trade Organization and the World Bank talking about how to make inter-faith dialogue the basis for moving collectively ahead in an increasingly small world.

The screening of Sound of the Soul takes place at 1:00 pm on Friday, December 15 at Mall of the Emirates Theatre 1.

Old Joy: This is a quiet, touching exploration of male friendship, starring prolific indie music star Will Oldham, who in the guise of Bonnie Prince Billie has performed with the likes of Bjork, and actor Jack London,. The film is scored by long-standing independent music stars Yo La Tengo.

Will Oldham and the film’s director Kelly Reichardt will be in attendance at the screening at 7:00 pm on Monday, December 11 at Mall of the Emirates Theatre 9. The film will also screen at 9:00 pm on Tuesday, December 12 at Mall of the Emirates Theatre 8, and at 1:00 pm on Wednesday, December 13 at Mall of the Emirates Theatre 8.

The Island: This Russian film delves into faith and guilt. Anatoly, a sailor who was forced by a German U-Boat captain to kill his Captain, becomes a holy man who heals and gives spiritual guidance while skirting the authority of church fathers. Despite his absolute religious devotion, however, he is torn asunder by the memory of his sin. A visually stunning film set in a frozen landscape, directed by Pavel Lounguine.

The Island will screen at 8:30 pm on Thursday, December 14 and 9:15 on Friday, December 15 at Mall of the Emirates Theatre 10.

Our Daily Bread: In a series of beautifully composed wide-screen images, this film reveals the little-known world of high-tech food production. The film leaves out the usual documentary interviews, opting instead to let the footage, shot around the world, speak for itself, boldly underscoring our increasing reliance on factory food.

Director Nikolaus Geyrhalter will be in attendance when Our Daily Bread is screened at 1:00 pm on Tuesday, December 12 at Mall of the Emirates Theatre 8, Thursday, December 14 at 6:45 pm at Mall of the Emirates Theatre 9, and 12:45 pm on Friday, December 15 at Mall of the Emirates 10.

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