Mongolian Eagle Masters to Bring Ancient Traditions, Modern Documentary to DIFF

Tue Nov 22,2005

Dubai, November 22, 2005 – A Kazakh eagle master and his apprentice from the remote mountainous regions of Mongolia will travel overseas for the first time next month as part of the second Dubai International Film Festival from December 11 to 17, 2005. The two men, accompanied by a translator, will be in Dubai for the Middle East premiere of Kiran Over Mongolia, one of six films included in the Festival’s Destination Documentary section. The film follows the story of Kuma, a young Kazakh man who chooses to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and dreams of trapping and training his own eagle. Under the tutelage of a local eagle master named Khairatkhan, Kuma learns not only the ways of hunting with eagles, but also the ways of his own people. “Kiran is a very good example of the enlightening and informative films included in the Festival’s documentary section this year,” Festival Director and CEO Neil Stephenson said. “When you see this film, you learn a great deal about the history and heritage of the Mongolian people and their beautiful land. The film also goes to the heart of our focus on the environment, which has always been a subject close to the heart of this country and the late President, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.” The film, which premiered internationally in June, drew rave reviews in Europe and North America, and director Joseph Spaid has similarly high expectations for its Dubai debut. The shared tradition of falconry and affinity between the Arab and Mongolian cultures, he said, has the makings of an exceptional and mutually advantageous relationship. “Kiran is an extremely intimate, natural, local portrait of people living entirely off the land in an ancient, nearly forgotten way,” Spaid said. “Access to such a lifestyle is extremely important to viewers who are increasingly reliant on the trappings of a technologically oriented life, because it returns us to the fundamentals of humanity, to the things all human beings have in common.” Although Arabs traditionally hunt with the smaller and more delicate falcons while Kazakhs use the larger and immensely powerful golden eagles, the traditions overlap in several areas, including the gear and tools used, trapping techniques and the respect given to these magnificent birds of prey. In Mongolia, Spaid added, the tradition is witnessing a resurgence of interest, which he hopes will be replicated in the Middle East. “It’s wonderful to know that the people of the UAE already have a passion for birds of prey,” Spaid said. “We are certainly looking forward to being in Dubai, and it would be truly amazing if we were able to track down local falconers and perhaps share knowledge with them.” Also included in the DIFF 2005 Destination Documentary line-up is Stroke, the award-winning German docudrama about talented and newlywed cellist Boris Baberkoff, who collapses suddenly in the midst of a trip to New York. A series of multiple strokes leaves him trapped inside his own brain and unable to communicate, leaving his filmmaker wife Katarina Peters to take up her camera to record a stroke diary, using art as a means of survival. The film has been acclaimed as a wildly cinematic tour de force, cathartic, courageous and compelling in equal measure. The full Destination Documentary program will be unveiled on November 27, along with the final announcement of Festival films and attendees and the opening of the Festival box office. The second Dubai International Film Festival will be held between December 11 and 17, 2005, and will feature approximately 100 films including features, retrospectives and short films. DIFF 2005 is divided into 12 distinct programs - including five brand new additions - each focusing on a particular category of film.

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