International Accolades for Films Showing at DIFF

Sat Nov 27,2004

Films that wowed audiences and industry juries at the Cannes, Venice, Toronto, Berlin, Edinburgh and Sundance Film Festivals will be screened during the inaugural Dubai International Film Festival, Festival Director and CEO Neil Stephenson said yesterday. The award-winning films are from a variety of genres and traditions, from drama to animation and from small independent work to big-budget studio productions, and most will be showing for the first time in the Middle East.

“At least six Festival films won major international accolades this year, and their presence in our Festival is a reflection of our focus on quality programming which in turn has been possible due to our world-class programmers,” Stephenson added.

“You do not get films of this stature just by paying for them,” he said. “Producers and sales agents have to be persuaded of factors beyond money, and to a considerable extent it is the reputation of the programmer that can swing things one way or another. Fortunately, industry executives have generally been interested in and intrigued by our Festival and have had confidence in our programmers, and so we hope in future years to include even more such quality films in our program.”

The Festival’s Opening Gala film, Le Grand Voyage, is making its Middle East premiere in Dubai only three months after Moroccan director Ismael Ferroukhi won the Luigi De Laurentis Award for First Feature Film at the Venice Film Festival. The film, which traces the journey of a traditional North African father and his French-raised modern son to the Haj in Mecca, also proved a major sensation at this year’s Toronto Film Festival.

Le Grand Voyage opens the Film Festival at 8 pm on Monday, December 6 at the Madinat Theatre, and has a second screening at 1 pm on Thursday, December 9 at the Arena of the Madinat Jumeirah Arabian Resort, Dubai.
At the Edinburgh Film Festival in August, American documentary Super Size Me won The Guardian New Director Award for innovation in filmmaking. One of the most talked-about documentaries of the year, Super Size Me charts the story of what would happen if you ate nothing but fast food for an entire month. Director Morgan Spurlock did just that, eventually spiraling into a physical and emotional metamorphosis and creating a feature that is both fascinating and alarming.
Super Size Me also received the Sundance Film Festival’s Documentary Directing Award, and is one of 12 nominees in the Best Documentary Film category of next year’s Academy Awards. It will screen at 1.15 pm and 6.45 pm on Tuesday, December 7 at Cinema 3 of in the Century Cinemas multiplex at the Mercato shopping mall in Jumeirah.

In May, the Cannes Film Festival awarded major prizes to two features destined for Dubai – the Latin American The Motorcycle Diaries and French feature Comme Une Image.

The Motorcycle Diaries, which has become the international hit of 2004, won the Ecumenical Jury Prize, traditionally given to films of high artistic quality that bear witness to cinema’s ability to shine a light on the human struggle.

A biopic that traces the journey of revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara around Latin America, The Motorcycle Diaries is equal parts road movie and coming-of-age film. What starts out as an adventure gradually takes a different turn as the young Guevara and his friend come face to face with the political and social realities of the countries they travel through, and live through experiences that fill them with the urge to fight for social justice.

The Motorcycle Diaries will be screened at 2.45 pm on Tuesday, December 7, at the Madinat Theatre, and again at 8.45 pm on Thursday, December 9, at Cinema 5 of Century Cinema in the Mercato mall.

Comme Une Image (Look at Me), a subtle comedy-drama that tells the story of a famous, egotistical author, his approval-seeking daughter and her shy French-Arab boyfriend, won the Best Screenplay Award at Cannes this year. It will be screened at 2.15 pm and 9 pm on Wednesday, December 8, at Cinema 4 of the Century Cinemas multiplex at Mercato.

Since its release last year, Canadian documentary The Corporation has received nine audience choice awards, including the 2004 Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Documentary Audience Award and the Toronto Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award.

The film charts the spectacular rise of corporate institutions and examines the far-reaching repercussions of their increasing preeminence. A timely and critical inquiry, The Corporation has been described as potentially doing for big business what Jaws did for sharks. It will screen at 1 pm and 8.30 pm on Friday, December 10, at Cinema 3 of the Century Cinemas multiplex at Mercato.
In This World, one of the most celebrated films of 2003, will also be screened during the Festival. Directed by Michael Winterbottom of The Magic Lantern and Welcome to Sarajevo fame, the moving and dramatic quasi-documentary traces the hazardous journey of two Afghan boys who travel overland from Pakistan and through Iran, Turkey, Italy, France and the UK in search of refuge in London.
The film was a triple winner at the Berlin Film Festival, nabbing the Golden Bear for Best Film, the Festival’s Ecumenical Jury Prize and its Peace Prize; and also won this year’s British Academy of Film and Television Award (BAFTA) for Best Foreign Language Film. It will screen at 3.45 pm and 9.15 pm on Tuesday, December 7, at Cinema 3 of the Century Cinemas multiplex at Mercato.

Some Festival films also being considered for next year’s Academy Awards. Les Choristes, a warm family film about the power of music and how it transforms a boarding school filled with orphans and delinquents, has been submitted for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It will be screened at 6.30 pm on Thursday, December 9 and at 2.45 pm on Friday, December 10 at the Auditorium of Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

The Story of the Weeping Camel, a heartrending documentary about a family of nomadic Mongolian shepherds and the lengths they go to to convince a camel to accept her rare white calf, has also been nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary Film category. It will be screened at 3.30 pm on Wednesday, December 8, and 12.30 pm on Saturday, December 11, at Century Cinemas’ Cinema 3 at the Mercato mall.

Two box offices are currently open for business: at the CNN Building Lobby in Dubai Media City from 11 am to 6 pm until December 6, and until 8 pm during the Festival; and at the Madinat Theatre in the Souk at Madinat Jumeirah from 11 am to 9 pm until December 6 and until 10.30 pm during the Festival.

The box office at Century Cinema in Mercato Mall is open for information, and tickets will be on sale there from 10 am to 6.30 pm starting Tuesday, November 30. During the Festival, the mall box office will remain open until 10.30 pm daily.

Additional box offices will open on December 7 at the Madinat Arena, and at the Auditorium at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel on December 8.

Telephone bookings and advance orders can be made with the Box Office on (04) 367 6701 / (04) 367 6707.
The Dubai International Film Festival will be held between December 6 and 11, 2004, and will feature approximately 75 films including features, retrospectives and short films. The Festival is divided into 10 distinct programs, each focusing on a particular Festival theme. DIFF is presented by Dubai Media City and its presenting sponsors are Dubai Duty Free, Emirates, Madinat Jumeirah Arabian Resort-Dubai, and Nakheel.  DIFF Gold Sponsors are DOM International, The Kanoo Group and National Bank of Dubai, and Silver Sponsors are Arabian Radio Network, Atlas Telecom, Dubai Radio Network, E-Vision and Motivate Publishing.

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