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Diverse Arab short selection demonstrates major new talent in Arab cinema

Mon Nov 19,2012

Dubai, November 19th, 2012 – Reflecting the dispersion of Arab talent around the world, this year’s Muhr Arab Shorts competition received an overwhelming submission from across the globe. The 15 shortlisted films, which span an array of genres from drama and fiction to social and children’s film, originate from the Gulf, Levant, Maghreb and Egypt – along with France, the UK and USA.

Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Artistic Director of DIFF said: “The Arab shorts competitions are among the most anticipated in the Festival, and this year is expected to be no different given the exceptional scripting and careful crafting of each of the tales. The short format is used by emerging and established filmmakers alike to tell compelling, hard hitting and contemporary stories in a unique way.”

The GCC Premiere of Noor by Ahmed Ibrahim will highlight how the innocent actions of a child can ignite passionate discussions and debates. As an Egyptian filmmaker who is based in New York, Ahmed Ibrahim brings his unique perspective of growing up in the Middle East and living in the U.S. to his films.

Moroccan filmmaker Omar Mouldouira will present the World Premiere of On the Edge which recounts the evolution of a boy on the crux of adulthood as he struggles with his conflicting childhood fears and future desires. With similar roots, Fyzal Boulifa, a British filmmaker of Moroccan descent will present Curse which centers on a woman who is persecuted by villagers after she is discovered to have had an illicit affair with an older man. Curse, which will have its Middle East Premiere at DIFF, won both the Premier Prix Illy for Short Filmmaking in Cannes and The Fujifilm Shorts competition this year.

Another submission which is still basking in Cannes glory and will make its Middle East Premiere at DIFF is short film Waiting for P.O Box, funded by Enjaaz. Directed by Bassam Chekhes, who was the first Syrian director to have ever been in a competition at Cannes, his 15-minute film narrates the challenges of filmmaking in an emerging region.

Also bestowed with the honor of being officially selected at Cannes, Behind Me Olive Trees, by Lebanese director Pascale Abou Jamra deals with a rather unknown side of Lebanon’s recent painful history: the cooperation of the so called “Lahd “ army with the Israel defense forces before Israel’s withdrawal from South Lebanon in 2000. The short, which was selected in Cinefoundation in Cannes and will make its GCC Premiere at DIFF, offers beautiful and powerful cinematography of the Lebanese landscape and depicts the painful experiences which come with being uprooted from your own land.

Another selection from Lebanon, A Very Dangerous Man, will be presented by Lebanese born Mazen Khaled who is also one of the founders of EXIST, an arts collective in Beirut. This short fiction film, a World Premiere at DIFF, follows a series of the seemingly ordinary acts across Beirut in the lead up to potentially sinister acts.

Tunisian director Anis Lassoued’s My Shoes explore a young boy’s passion for running and his deep desire for a new pair of running shoes which are far above the financial constraints of his father. In another lighthearted story of sport, Baghdad Messi by Iraqi director Sahim Omar Kalifa, and a world premiere at DIFF, follows the universal love football and lengths young boys will go to in order to watch their heroes.

In a heartfelt film of passion and secret dreams Tempo “The 3rd Act” by Lebanese director Maria Abdel Karim follows as Nadia pursues a surreal musical journey which her parents consider a taboo. In a further exploration of musical talent, the world premiere of Ultrasounds by French-born May Bouhada discovers how a multi-cultural community with various priorities can live harmoniously in a small town.

Two additional Syrian selections will also be making their World Premiere: The Good the Bad and the Sadistic by Ibraheem Ramadan which explores the desperate measures one will go to for love and Swings by world acclaimed Ammar Al-Beik; a pragmatic look at the impact of the Syrian revolution.

Another film being showcased in the category during the 9th DIFF is Familial Fever by Amr Abdelhadi, which follows a family on a road trip.  This is
Amr’s debut short and was officially selected at the Locarno Film Festival earlier this year (Jordan - Middle East Premiere). Also with a focus on families, This Path Ahead by Mohammed Bourokba, selected earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival centers around two brothers following clashes with the police in their neighbourhood (France – Middle East Premiere).

In its International Premiere, Valse with Asmahan by Samia Charkioui focuses on a pretty young Moroccan girl, who would do anything for a ticket to Egypt where she dreams to sing (Morocco - International Premiere).

Erfan Rashid, Director Arab Programme commented: “This year’s Arab programme is burgeoning with excellence and innovation as it explores the complexities of human interaction and family ties across the Arab world. The Shorts selected represent the complexities of Arab life and give an unsurpassed platform to some of the Region’s most gifted and creative talents.”

“Friends of the Festival” packages are now available for the upcoming 9th edition of DIFF. Film enthusiasts can select from any of the six exclusive tiers - DIFF Platinum Partner, DIFF Gold Circle, Patron of DIFF, DIFF Supporter, DIFF Genre and DIFF 10 and 25 ticket deals. In return, patrons will receive insider access to the Festival as an acknowledgement of their support for one of the most anticipated events on the UAE’s cultural calendar. For full details on each package and ticket purchases please visit www.dubaifilmfest.com, contact DIFF.Customerservice@filmfest.ae or the call centre 363-3456.

Dubai International Film Festival is media monitored by Media Watch, the leaders in Middle East media monitoring services.

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