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4 films from Dubai International Film Festival, Gulf Film Festival screening at prestigious Hot Docs festival in Canada

Wed May 04,2011

Four compelling documentaries from the Dubai International Film Festival and the recently concluded Gulf Film Festival, including two focused on the Arab world and three UAE co-productions, will screen this week in Toronto as part of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.

The films, which will screen at North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market, until May 8, 2011, include the award-winning Zelal, directed by Cairo-based filmmaker Marianne Khoury and Tunisian-French director Mustapha Hasnaoui; This is My Picture When I Was Dead by Jordan-born, Netherlands-based Mahmoud Al Massad; Koundi and The National Thursday by Cameroons director Ariane Astrid Atodji – all screened at DIFF 2010; and Love Arranged by Dubai-based director Soniya Kirpalani, which made its world premiere at GFF 2011.

DIFF Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali said: “The Dubai International Film Festival and Gulf Film Festival work hard to showcase the best in cinema from the Arab world, Asia and Africa. We are proud to see four of our films selected for this prestigious festival, and proud to serve as a stepping stone for regional filmmakers to take their talent to a global audience.”

Zelal, a co-production of the UAE, Egypt, France and Morocco, won the FIPRESCI Prize for Best Documentary at DIFF 2010, and is a hard-hitting reportage on the lives of people afflicted by mental illness in Egypt today. Filmed in two large asylums, the film reveals the horrific conditions in which patients are expected to live - squalor and neglect is endemic, staff members are stretched beyond breaking point, therapy and treatment seems non-existent.

Co-produced by UAE, USA and The Netherlands, This is My Picture When I Was Dead won the Muhr Arab Documentary First Prize at DIFF 2010. The documentary is about Bashir, now 29 years old, who digs through his past to find his true life after the press reported that he was killed as a four-year-old during the assassination of his father, a top Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) lieutenant. The film is highly original, often surreal and a truly novel experimentation.

Both Zelal and This is My Picture when I was Dead were co-produced by the Festival’s Enjaaz post-production fund, and participated in DIFF’s Dubai Film Connection and Dubai Filmmart.

An entry from Cameroon, Koundi and the National Thursday won the Special Jury prize at the Muhr AsiaAfrica documentary segment at DIFF. It depicts the life of villagers in Koundi, which is rich in timber. Gorgeously shot, the documentary is a heartfelt look at life inside a communal society that seeks to balance the demands of globalisation and the search for uniquely African solutions.

A co-production of UAE, UK and India, Love Arranged is about Divya and Neha, two internationally educated, beautiful Indian women, who prefer taking the arranged marriage route despite being daughters of love marriages. Sharing their humorous yet humbling journey to find ‘a suitable boy’, the documentary reveals a socio-cultural fabric still stained with dowry, colour and communal discrimination.

The Hot Docs festival will be held until May 8, 2011, and includes more than 150 cutting-edge documentaries from around the globe.

The seventh edition of the Dubai International Film Festival screened 157 films from 57 countries. DIFF 2010 included 41 world premieres, 13 international premieres, 58 Middle East premieres and 32 Gulf premieres. Nearly half of the films – 70 – were from the Arab world.

The eighth edition of the Dubai International Film Festival will be held from December 7 to 14, 2011. DIFF is held in association with Dubai Studio City. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah, the home of the Dubai International Film Festival, are the principal sponsors of DIFF. The Festival is supported by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.

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