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DIFF’s brings the hottest independent films from South Asia’s most innovative filmmakers

Mon Nov 12,2012

Dubai, November 12th, 2012 – As the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) draws closer, titles from the Asia Africa programme are being unveiled for the coveted Muhr AsiaAfrica Awards. This year, DIFF shines the spotlight on a crop of pioneering directors with a promising line-up of new wave cinema from South Asia that has been simmering for several years.

Nashen Moodley, DIFF’s Director of Asia Africa Programmes, said: “This year we are extremely excited to bring to the Festival a slate of dynamic, visionary cinema inclusive of documentaries, shorts and full-length films from South Asia. The line-up will give audiences of all ages and ethnicities a chance to discover new South Asian voices and celebrate established ones. The selection is guaranteed to entertain, inform and possibly leave audiences a little shocked!”

Considered to be one of the best emerging film directors working today, award winning Ashim Ahluwalia brings his first feature Miss Lovely. Selected at both Cannes and Toronto Film Festivals the stylized drama follows two brothers working in the grubby, low-rent, semi-criminal fringes of the Bombay film business.

Also selected at Toronto Film Festival, is the ambitious feature Ship Of Theseus from filmmaker, playwright and artist Anand Gandhi. The film explores questions of identity, justice, beauty, meaning and death through the stories of an experimental photographer, an ailing monk and a young stockbroker.

Among the winners at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was independent filmmaker and writer Musa Syeed who offers a rare view into the world of Kashmir in his feature Valley of Saints. His first narrative feature is an environmental drama that casts light on the toll that human habitation and tourism have taken on Kashmir’s lovely Dal Lake. 

Moving the spotlight to Bangladesh, established Bangladeshi film director, screenwriter and producer Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s latest feature Television, deals with the theme of tradition versus modernity in a rural setting that focuses on a local elder trying to enforce a ban on televisions in his village.

In yet another sign of the growing strength of cinema from South Asia, Sri Lankan filmmaker Asoka Handagama’s latest feature, Him, Here After has been a firm favourite on the festival circuit this year. Considered as his most accomplished cinematic work, Him, Here After tells the story of an ex-militant who, two years after the war, returns home from a rehabilitation centre hoping to start a new life.

From award-winning Sri Lankan film director, screenwriter and visual artist Vimukthi Jayasundara comes his latest work a short titled Light In The Yellow Breathing Space which focuses on a young boy being with his father on his dying day.  His first feature, The Forsaken Land won the Caméra d’Or at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, making him the only Sri Lankan to win the award.

Also from Sri Lanka director and writer, Suba Sivakumaran presents a beautifully shot short that was in competition earlier this year at Berlin Film Festival. I Too Have A Name, explores what it means to be a woman in a world where men are absent and where both political, religious and social freedom is lacking.

One of the most anticipated documentaries of the programme is the complex, disturbing yet heartening story of Gulabi Gang from director Nishtha Jain. The documentary follows the pink sari-clad vigilante women of the Gulabi Gang in India, committed to protecting women against social malpractice, corrupt administrators, and abusive husbands. This is a group of women who are refusing to accept domestic violence and have decided to strike back.

Critically acclaimed and multi award-winning director Sourav Sarangi who experienced huge international success with his last documentary Bilal hopes to continue in this vein with his latest documentary Char…The No-Man’s Island. The documentary follows Rubel and Sofi, two kids who take rice to Bangladesh from India by crossing the river that acts as the border and has eroded their home. They settle in Char, a fragile island formed within the river, a no man’s land patrolled by army men.

Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Artistic Director of DIFF commented:  “Our programming team bring to the Festival this year a spectrum of quality work from the most pioneering filmmakers who are challenging the status quo in South Asia and bringing to the screens ground-breaking documentaries, real-life gritty stories and experimental features. This selection will give audiences a totally unique and real life perspective of this part of the world that is both fascinating and complex.”

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