ARABIAN NIGHTS PROGRAMMING ANNOUNCED
Wed Nov 21,2007
Dubai, November 21, 2007: The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) today announced the slate for its programming segment Arabian Nights, which offers films made by filmmakers from the Middle East and beyond, focusing on stories related to Arabs and the Arab world. The staggeringly diverse segment is comprised of 19 films, including four World Premieres, which falls inline with DIFF’s mandate of promoting Arab cinema on the world stage iline with DIFF’s mandate of promoting Arab cinema on the world stage.
In the features category, Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch’s inspiring Whatever Lola Wants has been chosen as the Gala. Starring Laura Ramsey (She’s the Man, 2006) as the title character, the film explores the mentoring relationship between Lola, an irrepressible young dancer from New York and a reclusive Egyptian dancer who has all but retired from the world. Through dance, they overcome the pain of lost love, lost opportunities and lost time.
Masoud Amralla al Ali, DIFF’s Artistic Director, expanded on the choice of Whatever Lola Wants as the Arabian Nights Gala Film, which will screen on December 11, 2007: \“It is an important opportunity for a Moroccan director to work with an American star, and this is an important film for us at DIFF because it acts as a cultural bridge: Lola is inspired by Egyptian art and culture, and goes through a transformation that changes her life as a result. The positive, upbeat nature of the film makes it a natural choice to be the gala.\”
Of the other features, three are set outside the Arab world, in Europe and Canada: Nasser Bakhti’s Night Shadows, explores 24 hours in the life of five people in Geneva who defy that city’s picture-postcard image; Ana el Akhar (Me the Other) follows the impact on two friends’ relationship when one suspects the other of being a suspect in the Madrid train bombings; and Nafizati Bala Watan (From my Window, Without a Home) is set in Montreal, about a mother-daughter reunion 17 years after the mother abandoned her child in Beirut.
Three of the features deal with the troubled past and present of Algeria: Layali Arabia (Arabian Nights) depicts a French railway worker who searches for his missing friend, a young, homeless Algerian woman; Cartouches Gauloises, follows two 11-year old brothers and their best friend as Algeria’s War of Independence breaks out; and Intimate Enemies shows the clash between an idealistic young lieutenant and a cynical old sergeant in the occupying French army. Michou D’Auber, starring Gerard Depardieu, is a comedy about a young Algerian boy sent to a foster family who disguise him as a little French boy.
Arabian Nights also contains a strong thematic grouping of films referred to as ‘The 9/11 Effect,’ dealing with the impact of the 2001 New York attacks on the lives of ordinary Arab-Americans. AmericanEast focuses on the points of view of three main characters who epitomize different aspects of Arab-American life in the post-9/11 era, and USA vs Al-Arian is a documentary about the family of Arab-American Sami Al-Arian, who was arrested in 2003 for supporting terrorism and put in solitary confinement. The theme of wrongful confinement runs through the three shorts in the collection: Al Ab Al-Mokhless- A Father Taken, Yasin and The Good Son.
The programme’s other shorts are diverse: Both delves into the world of a former Lebanese militia man living in London, (Posthumous) explores the intersection of fiction and the real in Beirut through experimental video, and Either Me or Haifa is a Palestinian love story between a refugee living in Denmark and a journalist in Haifa. Baris ala el Baher (Paris by the Sea) follows Wilson, a young immigrant from Benin who weaves a wonderful life for himself in Tangiers in his letters to his parents, and Good Night Malik compares the lives of two brothers living in Paris.
Unusually for the Arabian Nights segment, this year there is only one documentary, Ladies, Women, Citizens, which follows five women from very different segments of Lebanese society, discussing their own dreams and the hopes they cherish for their country’s future.
DIFF 2007 will run from 9-16 December. Principal Sponsors of the event are Emirates, Dubai Duty Free, Jumeirah, and Dubai Pearl.
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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