‘Control Room’ Director, Producer to Participate in Panel Discussion After Gulf Premiere on Tuesday

Thu Dec 08,2005

Dubai, December 6, 2004

Control Room, the celebrated fly-on-the-wall look at the Al Jazeera network during the US-led invasion of Iraq, will make its Gulf premiere on the second day of the Dubai International Film Festival, at 9.30 pm at the Madinat Theatre on Tuesday. The discussion that follows directly after the screening, however, is likely to be just as much of an eye-opener as the film, as director Jehane Noujaim, producer Hani Salama and Al Jazeera correspondent Hassan Ibrahim engage members of the audience and the local and regional media about the film, its subject and issues related to coverage of the war in Iraq.

The panel discussion, chaired by Dubai-based media personality Nima Abu Wardeh, was organized by Festival programmers Antonia Carver and Masoud Amralla Al Ali to give audience members and local and regional media the opportunity to explore issues raised by the film and to interact with the filmmakers.

“It is important to show Control Room in the Festival and in the Middle East, and not only because of the growing importance of Al Jazeera and other Arab news networks,” said Carver. “This isn’t just a film about Al Jazeera, but about the war in Iraq. It tells the story of the war by getting to the heart of its coverage.”

Director Noujaim expressed similar sentiments during a stopover in Dubai earlier this week. “This is one of the first places I wanted to take the film,” she said. “The subject was in such demand in the United States because of the new perspectives it offered for them… But you need to have real champions of these films (in the Middle East).”

The film’s story is an unusual one: it started when director Noujaim moved into Al Jazeera’s offices just days before the US invaded Iraq. She stopped filming with the fall of Baghdad a month later, but not before putting together a revealing behind-the-scenes look at the Doha newsroom, the US military media centre, and how truth is gathered, presented and sometimes even created by those who deliver it.

Critics around the world have hailed Control Room for its balanced viewpoint and its insight into the different participants in the war – American soldiers, the US government, Iraqis and Al Jazeera staff all speak freely about their opinions and feelings, whether the topic of discussion is Saddam Hussein or the American constitution.

Control Room will screen at 9.30 pm at the Madinat Theatre on Tuesday, December 7, and at 2.15 pm on Thursday, December 9, also at the Madinat Theatre.

Festival prices range from Dh. 10 for the four open-air “Screen on the Green” films (Lawrence of Arabia, Gagamboy (Spiderman), Mr. India and Five Children And It) at the Dubai Media City amphitheater to Dh. 20 for regular screenings at DIFF main venues and Dh. 50 for the red-carpet gala screenings at the Madinat Arena, Madinat Jumeirah Arabian Resort-Dubai. Two special offers – student discounts and a Five-Flick deal that offers a set of five regular screening tickets for the price of four – have also been created to make the Festival accessible to all UAE residents and visitors.

Three DIFF box offices are currently open for business: at the CNN Building Lobby in Dubai Media City from 11 am to 6 pm until December 6, and until 8 pm during the Festival; at the Madinat Theatre in the Souk at Madinat Jumeirah from 11 am to 9 pm until December 6 and until 10.30 pm during the Festival; and at the Mercato mall from 10 am to 6.30 pm until December 6, and until 10.30 pm during the Festival.

Additional box offices will open on December 7 at the Madinat Arena, and at the Auditorium at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel on December 8.

Telephone bookings and orders can be made with the Box Office on (04) 367 6701 / (04) 367 6707 for advance bookings and directions to box office venues.

The Dubai International Film Festival will be held between December 6 and 11, 2004, and will feature approximately 75 films including features, retrospectives and short films. The Festival is divided into 10 distinct programs, each focusing on a particular Festival theme. DIFF is presented by Dubai Media City and its presenting sponsors are Dubai Duty Free, Emirates, Madinat Jumeirah Arabian Resort-Dubai, and Nakheel.  DIFF Gold Sponsors are DOM International, The Kanoo Group and National Bank of Dubai, and Silver Sponsors are Arabian Radio Network, Atlas Telecom, Dubai Radio Network, E-Vision and Motivate Publishing.

Media Note: A special Web site has been created exclusively for members of the press at The site contains an archive of press releases and clippings in Arabic and English, in addition to high-resolution images available for download. Stills downloaded from the site are for promotional purposes only and any usage must include a credit as being courtesy of the rights holder.

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