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MUHR ASIAAFRICA FEATURES: A WORLD APART

Tue Nov 26,2013

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) today announced the feature films in its Muhr AsiaAfrica Feature programme, which includes some of the most celebrated films in world cinema this year.

Whether rousing audiences to their feet in Cannes or returning to the medium decades after having controversial work banned, the directors vying for the prestigious award in 2013 have stretched the film form to the limits, said DIFF’s Head of AsiaAfrica Programming Nashen Moodley Artistic Director.

He continued: “These directors are the standouts in world cinema this year. Their films are brave stories that break out of the genre mould and propel storytelling into uncharted territory. They are proof that cinema in Asia and Africa is more than alive and well, and filled with creativity and vitality. For a shot of colour, thrills and drama, I urge DIFF audiences to turn to the AsiaAfrica Features for an unforgettable festival experience.”

Ilo Ilo is the first film by director Anthony Chen, and won the prestigious Camera D’or in Cannes where it garnered a 15-minute standing ovation! Set in Singapore, and recently submitted as the Singaporean entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2014 Academy Awards, Ilo Ilo chronicles the relationship between the Lim family and their newly arrived Filipina maid, Teresa. Though she develops a deep and unique relationship with the family, this is 1997 and the Asian Financial Crisis is starting to be felt all through the region.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Andrew Worsdale brings Durban Poison, a noir romance set amongst the marginalised white underclass of his native South Africa. This is Worsdale’s return to film, twenty seven years after his UCLA graduate thesis film ‘Shot Down’ was banned in his home country and went on to festival acclaim, becoming South Africa’s definitive cult film of the 1980s. Inspired by a true story, Durban Poison charts the doomed outlaw lovers who became South Africa’s version of ‘Bonnie and Clyde’.

Bangladeshi writer/director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki had his breakout on the international scene with his 2009 feature, Third Person Singular Number. Ant Story, his fifth film, is hotly anticipated in his native country and beyond, with the story of Mithu, a young grad trying to make it in Dhaka. Mithu finds himself unequipped to compete in the rat race of the city, so embarks on a dangerously creative journey of faking, lying, and fantasizing to get what he wants.

Shakram Mokri’s Fish and Cat arrives fresh from taking a top award at this year’s Venice film festival. Based on a grisly true story and shot in a single exhilarating take, it follows a group of students camping in the Caspian region of Iran who run into shady chefs…chefs who are looking for young, tender meat for their restaurant.

Award-winning French filmmaker Dyana Gaye’s debut feature Under the Starry Sky confronts the realities, hopes and dreams of contemporary emigration in the story of three young people whose crisscrossing paths intersect between Africa, America and Europe.

Veteran Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-Liang’s poetic Stray Dogs follows a homeless father and two children who inhabit the margins of Taipei. A mysterious woman appears to them on the father’s birthday, providing a potential key to the mysteries of the past.

The breakout feature by Indian filmmaker Ritesh Batra, Lunchbox is the story of a wrongly delivered lunchbox in Mumbai that connects an elderly man, played by Irrfan Khan, to a young housewife. The two begin to pass notes in the lunchbox, building an elaborate fantasy life that threatens to overwhelm their reality.

Veteran Chadian director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun returns to DIFF with his fifth feature film, Grigris. The eponymous hero is a 25-year old with a paralyzed leg who dreams of being a dancer, but who must take drastic measures to protect his dreams when his uncle falls critically ill.

Thou Gild’st the Even is a magic-realist fable from Turkish filmmaker Onur Ünlü, set in a small Anatolian town where all the inhabitants have supernatural powers. Not that this protects them from heartache, as Cemal, a depressive football referee who can also see through walls, finds out. Thou Gild’st the Even combines silliness and melancholy in its ultimately humane depiction of a town that could be anywhere in the world.

Suburban drama and crime thriller Thuy, by Jae-Han Kim, follows a Vietnamese woman, Thuy, investigating the suspicious death of her Korean husband, a disabled man that she married for money. The quiet village turns out to be a hotbed of violence as Thuy digs deeper, risking her own life and those of others in a quest for justice.

The Muhr AsiaAfrica Feature Awards are some of the most lucrative in the festival world, with USD50,000 going to the Best Film, USD40,000 awarded for Special Jury Prize, USD15,000 for Best Director, and Best Actress and Best Actor each taking away USD8,000. Winning films will be announced at the closing ceremonies of the 2013 edition of the festival, set to take place from December 6 to 14, 2013.

For screening schedules and additional information on the films, consult the festival website: www.dubaifilmfest.com.

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