Arafat biopic, 99 superheroes, Arab communities abroad come to life in DIFF Arabian Nights showcase

Sat Dec 03,2011

Dubai, UAE; December 3, 2011: A powerful documentary on Palestinian leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Yasser Arafat, the return of Paradise Now director Hany Abu-Assad with a short take on Istanbul, the struggle of a group of women to save the dying art of traditional belly dancing in Cairo, and several heart-wrenching as well as heart-warming stories of ordinary people in the Arab world are on showcase in the Arabian Nights programme of the eighth Dubai International Film Festival.

The Arabian Nights line-up at DIFF 2011, consisting of 20 films, all of which are open to the public, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, includes one world premiere, two international premieres, and seven Middle East premieres, which will be screened from December 8 to 14, 2011, a day after the festival’s official opening on December 7.

Antonia Carver, Programmer for Arabian Nights, said: “Our Arabian Nights programme is a window into the Arab world by filmmakers based in the region and from across the world. The growing number of global collaborations is a testament to the interest internationally in the Arabic film industry. We are delighted to showcase such an eclectic collection of films that capture the varied facets of life in the region.”

Making its world premiere is Ala’ Abu Ghoush’s Goldfish, which narrates the story of a nine-year-old Palestinian refugee Bashar, who decides to take his goldfish to a bigger home. The film will be screened on Dec. 9 at Mall of the Emirates (MoE) 11, and Dec. 12 at MoE 1.

Marcus Vetter’s German film, Cinema Jenin – The Story of a Dream follows the life of Ismael, whose son was shot by an Israeli sniper. In the agony lies the story of the birth of Palestinian cinema, which Marcus, Ismael, and Fakhri, a local from Jenin, discover through the complex cultural and political relationships that surround it. The film will make its Middle East Premiere on Dec 12 and Dec. 13 at MoE 7.

Richard Symons’ The Price of Kings – Yasser Arafat, documents the legacy of Yasser Arafat, the only president in the world without a fully recognised country, through interviews with his closest relatives and friends, and his widow, Suha. A series of honest anecdotes help us understand the story of the man who fought to bring peace; a goal he was unable to realise during his lifetime. The film will be screened on Dec. 8 at MoE 12, and Dec. 10 at MoE 9.

From France is The Brown Line, in which filmmaker and father-to-be Rachid Djaidani follows his wife’s pregnancy every step of the way, documenting their changing lives on a camera phone, which will be screened on Dec. 9 at Mall of the Emirates (MoE) 11, and Dec. 12 at MoE 1.

Dave Osbourne’s The 99 Unbound, is based on the characters created by the Kuwaiti Dr Naif Al-Mutawa. In the film, 99 young superheroes from around the world are recruited to create an invincible team dedicated to fight evil. It will be screened at the First Group Theatre in Madinat Jumeirah on Dec. 13, and at MoE 7 on Dec. 14. The Brown Line and The 99 Unbound are making their international premiere at DIFF 2011. 

From Canada and making its Middle East Premiere at DIFF 2011 is Romeo Eleven (Roméo Onze) in which director Ivan Grbovic and actor Ali Ammar narrate the story of Rami, a Lebanese boy based in Montreal. As Rami battles his daily life with a disability and his desire to meet family expectations, he finds solace in his online persona ‘Romeo Eleven,’ only to lose the fine line between the two. The film will be screened on Dec. 8 and Dec 10, at MoE 9.

An intimate portrait of women whose goal is to save the disappearing art of belly dancing, their lives, and the magic of Cairo, is presented in Isabelle Lavigne and Stephane Thibault’s At Night, They Dance (La Nuit, Elles Dansent) to be screened on Dec. 9 at MoE 5 and on Dec. 11 at MoE 11.

France’s Arab community comes to life in Philippe Faucon’s Disintegration (Désintégration), which narrates the tale of three 20-something boys, Ali, Nasser, and Hamza, who befriend Djamel, perceived as a charismatic intellect, only to find that Djamel manipulates the boys into revolting against the society they are a part of. The film will be screened on Dec. 9 at MoE 10, and Dec. 10 at MoE 9.

In the equally tender and delightful Turtles Do Not Die of Old Age, three Moroccan octogenarians – a master fisherman, an innkeeper and a street musician - still work to earn a living and are determined to continue living to the best of their ability. The documentary, directed by Hind Benchekroun and Sami Mermer, will be screened on Dec. 12 at MoE 7, and Dec. 14 at MoE 6.

DIFF 2011 will screen 171 films from 56 nations representing the best of national, regional and world cinema between December 7 and 14 at the Mall of the Emirates, Madinat Jumeirah and The Walk at JBR.

The DIFF box office is open at Additional information is also available through the Festival’s dedicated customer care number, 363 FILM (3456).

The Investment Corporation of Dubai is the title sponsor of the Dubai International Film Festival. The eighth edition of DIFF is held in association with Dubai Studio City. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah, home to the Dubai International Film Festival, are the principal sponsors of DIFF. The Festival is supported by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority. For more and updated information about DIFF, please visit


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