DIFF 2006 Celebrates Best in World Cinema with 6 Gala Screenings

Mon Nov 20,2006

In addition to the world acclaimed film Bobby, opening this year’s Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), organisers today announced the six films that will comprise the remainder of the festival’s gala screenings.

With subject matter ranging from the aftermath of 11 September in Afghanistan to the anti-British rebellion in Ireland, from friendship and salvation on a farm to the exploration of fame and identity, the DIFF line up includes six Middle East premieres and one world premiere. 

Representing diversity in global cinema will be The Wind That Shakes The Barley; Kabul Express; Charlotte’s Web; Babel; Hollywoodland (Middle East premieres) and Justified Cheating (world premiere), all of which explore historical incidents, communities, histories, and cultures around the globe.

Commenting on DIFF’s curatorial choices, Abdulhamid Juma, Chairman, DIFF said: “Our selection this year is a testimony to our objective of bringing films that have won critical plaudits at other international forums, including the Cannes and Toronto film festivals.

“ We are also pleased to showcase the best of Arab cinema, both in our gala screenings, with Justified Cheating, and with the wide choice of offerings from cinema around the Arab world in our daily programming. We are confident our choices will live up to the standards that audiences have come to expect from DIFF.”

Khiyana Shareyyah (Justified Cheating), an intriguing and entertaining thriller by award winning writer and director Khalid Youssef, tells the story of a young, rich man, Hani Salama, who kills his wife and brother when he finds them in a compromising situation. Told from shifting perspectives in the style of Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, the film captures the imagination of the audience with its brilliant screenplay and technical execution. This film is being screened as part of DIFF’s Arabian Night component.

Kabul Express, the gala screening representing DIFF’s Cinema from the Sub-continent, is set in the weeks after 11 September, 2001, when journalists swept down on Afghanistan to witness the impending war. Premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to an overwhelming audience response, Kabul Express is a near-miraculous road movie. Writer-director Kabir Khan captures not only the grim truth of that place, but also the unruly humour of a time when life can change in a second.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley, recipient of this year’s Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival, is representative of the Café Europe segment of the festival.  The film is considered a comment on what drives ordinary men and women to politics and violence. Set in 1920’s Ireland, it portrays how workers unite to form voluntary guerrilla armies to face the ruthless squads that are being shipped from Britain to block Ireland’s bid for independence.

As part of the Contemporary World Cinema segment, Hollywoodland is a compelling exploration of fame and identity, inspired by one of Hollywood’s most notorious real-life mysteries. The story revolves around a down-on-his-luck detective investigating the suspicious suicide of actor George Reeves, the star of the television series, Superman. The film is the feature directorial debut for Allen Coulter, who won Emmy and DGA Award nominations for his work on The Sopranos and Sex and the City. Critics at The Wall Street Journal and Vanity Fair forecast the film to be a strong contender for this year’s Oscars.

Directed by Gary Winnick and based on the book by EB White, Charlotte’s Web is a story of friendship and salvation on a farm. An animated children’s film, it is expected to attract young audiences as part of DIFF’s dedicated programming – Cinema for Children. The film is based on the profound friendship between various characters on an animal farm. Their bond inspires them to come together as a family to rescue one of their friends.

The Operation Cultural Bridge Gala, Babel, is directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and is the final concluding statement of his trilogy that began with Amores Perros and 21 Grams. Babel has four interweaving stories set in Morocco, Tunisia, Mexico and Japan. A single incident impacts the lives of four separate groups of strangers across these four countries. None of these strangers will ever meet, and in spite of the sudden, unlikely connection between them, all will remain isolated due to their own inability to communicate meaningfully with the others.

The Dubai International Film Festival will run from 10-17 December.

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