Discovering Documentaries’ reel in reality fans at DIFF 2009

Fri Dec 11,2009

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) has six engaging films under its ‘Discovering Documentaries’ package this year – including four world premieres – with afternoon and evening screenings for added viewing flexibility.

DIFF Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali, said this year the selection of documentaries is eclectic with a range of subject matter from around the world. “These six movies, in one way or the other, are eye-openers on human society today. All of them are packaged conveniently for viewers to make informed and easy viewing chioices.”

Afternoon screenings include Earth’s Women (Dec. 13, 1pm), Flint Mountains and Little Wings (Dec. 14, 2 pm) and Mother Unknown and Zahara (Dec. 15, 3.15pm), which are complemented by screenings of Chou Sar (Dec. 12, 9.45pm), Collapse and Back To One’s Roots (Dec. 13, 6.45pm) and A Normal Life, Please (Dec. 15, 7.30pm).

The world premiere of Collapse by Hadi Mahood looks at how the country’s cultural institutions were destroyed after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003 and documents the proceedings that trapped the educated at home and triggered their suffering in exile.

Another eagerly anticipated debut is Little Wings from film-maker Rashid Masharawi, who visits Baghdad to meet young children who are forced to work around the city, drawing parallels between them and youngsters in Gaza. The film presents a world in which everyone, no matter how young, has to struggle to survive. Masharawi’s deep sense of identification with the children’s traumas makes for a deeply affecting and authoritative document of the local situation.

Two other films making their world premieres at this year’s DIFF are Back to One’s Roots by director Bilal Yousef, which narrates the story of a young Palestinian whose two brothers were killed during their services in the Israeli army, and Syrian entry, Jibal Alsawan (Flint Mountains), directed by Nidal Hassan, depicting the inspiring story of sculptor and architect Hikmat Adra who created magical artworks from local stones and rocks.

The Sudanese entry by Taghreed Elsanhouri, Mother Unknown, is an absorbing portrait of the Mygoma orphanage and young, unmarried mothers of Khartoum, who are forced to give up their babies for adoption. The film won the Unicef Child Rights Award when it premiered at the Zanzibar International Film Festival in July.

Fear and resistance against oppression is the main theme of Zahara, a highly anticipated new film by celebrated actor-director Mohammed Bakri. Zahara has all the passion of Bakri’s award-winning 2002 documentary, Jenin Jenin, plus a beautifully lyrical narrative that covers the breadth of recent Palestinian history.

A Lebanese man returns to his homeland in search of answers, following the slaughter of his family nearly thirty years ago in world premiere Chou Sar? By De Gaulle Eid. Discovering his former neighbours, who participated in his family’s slaying are still living in the area, the narrator is faced with a hideous reality.

The harsh realities of rural life in Korea, as seen through the eyes of three displaced urban women, form the centerpiece of Earth’s Women, directed by Woo-jung Kwon, and more Asian film-making talent is on show in Japan’s A Normal Life, Please in which an overworked truck driver is menaced by a gang hired by his employers after he joins a workers’ union.

Now in its sixth year, DIFF 2009 is held in association with Dubai Studio City until December 16. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah are the principal sponsors of DIFF and the event is supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture). For more information on the festival, please visit

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