News

DIFF films take centre stage in Paris

Thu Sep 20,2012

Dubai, September 20, 2012 – An exciting week is on the agenda for cinema lovers in Paris as a selection of work supported by the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) are set to make their debut at IMA’GIMA “Arab Cinemas Encounter”, a festival of Arab cinema organised for the first time by the Society CommNprod International and the Arab World Institute (IMA) in Paris.

This Avant-Première edition’s programme supported by DIFF, will be screened at the IMA Rafik Hariri Auditorium, between September 21 and September 25. Audiences can expect an intriguing mix of features and shorts from the Middle East and North Africa from a surge of emerging filmmakers eager to share their creativity and diversity with audiences across the globe.

Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Artistic Director, Dubai International Film Festival, commented: “Expanding the visibility of Arab films is crucial and it’s encouraging to see such a strong presence of Arab filmmakers making an impression at festivals all around the world this year. We are proud to be a part of IMA’GIMA’s preview and showcase the creativity and excellence from the MENA and Gulf to new audiences and develop opportunities to encourage film production and further develop relationships between France and the Arab world.”
Nayla Khalek, Director, Society CommNprod International said: “We are delighted Dubai International Film Festival are supporting IMA’GIMA we share the same objectives and the same aspirations when it comes to the future of Arab cinema and its presence in the world.  Encouraging young Arab filmmakers while preciously preserving our traditional cinema, were the key reasons to creating this partnership between DIFF and IMA’GIMA. We are looking forward to a productive collaboration and are currently working on plans with DIFF to further develop Arab talent around the world.” 
From Uda Benyamina’s The Road to Paradise, which won First Prize at the 8th Edition of DIFF in the Muhr Arab Short category, to Emirati filmmaker Mariam Al Sarkal’s documentary London in a Headscarf which received a Special Mention at the Muhr Emirati Awards in 2011 and Zelal, from directors Marianne Khoury and Mustapha Hasnaoui which scooped the FIPRESCI award for Best Documentary. The assorted programme will give audiences at IMA’GIMA a unique insight to cultural traditions across the region. 

The first edition of IMA’GIMA “Arab Cinema Encounters” will showcase a total of 32 works, ranging from documentaries to features and shorts. IMAG’IMA’s objectives are expanding the visibility of Arab cinema, supporting distribution networks and encouraging the production of films from the region.
Below are some of the selected films that have been awarded at Dubai International Film Festival and Gulf Film Festival that will screen at IMAG’IMA “Arab Cinemas Encounter”.


Damascus Roof and Tales of Paradise (Syria)
Director: Soudade Kaadan
Weird, wonderful, happy and heartbreaking - there’s a rich tradition of storytelling in Syria, fables passed from grandparents to grandchildren, filled with colourful imagery - from flying fish to friendly snakes! However, these stories have got lost with time. Within the old city of Damascus, as modernisation changes the familiar landscape of the ancient town, so the danger that these stories, cherished and passed down through generations, will vanish amidst the rubble and disruption of the new city taking shape…

Zelal (Egypt)
Feature Documentary
Director: Marianne Khoury, Mustapha Hasnaoui
Feature Documentary
A quiet masterpiece of hard-hitting reportage, Mustapha Hasnaoui and Marianne Khoury’s ‘Zelal’ has drawn global critical praise for its hard-hitting and sobering insight into the lives of those afflicted by mental illness in Egypt today.

A Light Breeze (Iraq)
Short Documentary
Director: Rania M. Tawfik
Dancing makes me happy! These are Sahar´s words opening the film. But is it that easy going for what makes you happy? A Light Breeze is the graduation film of Rania M. Tawfik. It is an experimental multicamera documentary film from The National Film School of Denmark.

Bahari (Egypt)
Short Fiction
Director: Ahmed Al Ghoneimy
Amr wanders alone in the streets of Bahary, the marginalized eastern shore of Alexandria. While he collects material for an art project he is allured to film a playful group of children. Two locals are provoked by Amr’s actions leading to an encounter that develops elusive fears and desires.

London in a Headscarf (United Arab Emirates)
Short Documentary
Director: Mariam Al Sarkal
London in a headscarf is a documentary that follows the journey of an Emirati girl that decided to study abroad. She faces many issues with adapting to the new culture and finds out that her decision to study abroad may have made her not an eligible candidate for marriage.

Hayat (Iraq)
Short Fiction
Director: Mujtaba Saeed
Hayat is forced to leave her house after her conservative Iraqi father discovers her love for a German man, Locas, who also eventually abandons her. Two years later, she bumps into Locas and discovers he has converted to Islam.

Cart (Iraq)
Short Fiction
Director: Hadi Mahood
As a cart journeys through the country, it registers the disorder all around. Meanwhile, children’s balloons reflect their optimism for nation-building.

Hidden Fences (Yemen)
Short Documentary
Director: Samer Al Namri
The film deals with one of the neglected minority groups in living the Yemen. The film travels deep into their world and explores the suffering from manifestations of discrimination and violence.

The Salt Fisherman (Palestine)
Short Fiction
Director: Ziad Bakri
A tale of a solitary fisherman who lives alone in his cabin. His days are like his nights, fraught with waiting. He rises with the sunrise carrying his concern and his fishing tools, walking, ascending, descending and heading towards the sea to fish. What could perhaps be veiled behind these days?

A Place To Go (Lebanon)
Short Fiction
Director: Wajdi Elian
Ziad is a solitary character living an organized, unadventurous, routine existence. One day, his rhythm is disrupted by a series of minor accidents that bring a peculiar street cat into his home, for better or for worse…

Malal (United Arab Emirates)
Short Fiction
Director: Nayla Al Khaja
Set in Kerala - the first Emirati production to shoot in the Indian state,  Nayla Al Khaja’s “Malal” revolves around a young Emirati couple, on their honeymoon. Their approach to the relationship and commitment to the marriage is the theme of the film, providing a revealing and frank insight into the realities of arrange marriages and the challenges faced by modern-day Emirati couples.

The Road to Paradise (Morocco)
Short Fiction
Director: Uda Benyamina
Leila and her two children, Sarah and Bilal, have left their native land to settle in France, in search of a better life, and Leila’s husband, who is a refugee in England. Survival is tough and gets tougher, when she finds a lead to her husband…

Sokoon (Bahrain)
Short Fiction
Director: Ammar Abdulla Al Kooheji
Haya is a black girl, who is pregnant. She hides her secret from Lulua, a merchant’s daughter who is refusing to marry her cousin. Both girls find themselves in similar situations - dark destinies in a male-dominated society…

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