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MUHR ASIAAFRICA SHORTS PACKED WITH STORIES

Sat Nov 29,2008

12 Countries Represented at First Annual Competition

The first annual Muhr AsiaAfrica Competition at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) offers a selection of short films from Africa, Central Asia and the Far East that offer a bouquet of stories at once, organizers said today.

The Muhr AfricaAsia competition was introduced this year to stimulate and expose filmmaking from emerging markets. Nashen Moodley, Director of AsiaAfrica Programming for DIFF, said: “Short films remain important because they are where a lot of filmmakers cut their teeth, while some directors prefer to remain in the form because its limitations challenge them. For audiences, a short programme is a delight because it allows them to sample stories from a vast region,  incorporating a variety of different themes and forms. Viewers that prefer diversity should consider our short programmes, which will not disappoint.”

Three of the films originate from Africa: The Birthday is a submission by Burkina Faso’s legendary filmmaker Idrissa Ouedraogo which sees the beautiful Awa decide to marry for money rather than love; in Expectations,  a young man returns to his village in Chad tired and listless, but must confront the people who lent him the money for his journey; Jesus and the Giant, set in Johannesburg, follows an avenging woman who seeks out the man that battered her friend.

Further to the east, Iran’s 35 Metriye Sathe Ab (35 Metres from the Water) depicts moments of connection and beauty between unlikely lovers; in Ayak Al Tinda (Downstairs), a Turkish manual worker’s monotonous life is shattered by a striking revelation; Kam Sanabanyz (Everything is OK),Kyrgyzstani director Akjol Bekbolotov’s film on the plight of the thousands of homeless children of Bishkek, is an impressive and moving glimpse of life on the streets; from Kazakhstan, Bakhytzhamal depicts a mentally disturbed man runs away from a sanatorium to meet his old flame, while India’s Dhin Tak Dha depicts another escape—a village garage mechanic who falls in with a troupe of traditional touring performers.

From East Asia, Japanese black comedy Daichi O Tataku Onna (Woman Who Is Beating the Earth) depicts a lonely and bored butcher. Shifting gears, Ambulancia (Ambulance) introduces a group of desperate Pilipino ambulance drivers who believe that running over stray street animals can save dying patients’ lives,  while Shao Nian Xue (Young Blood) takes us on a fun ride to a crowded housing complex in late 1980s Shanghai where teenage hormones run rampant. The Taiwanese Tian Hei (The End of the Tunnel) is another take on young love, wherein a blind high school student bonds with an unlikely friend by using his piano skills, and Malaysia’s Chicken Rice Mystery shows a young boy as he ponders one of the greatest mysteries of his life: why is his mother’s cooking so appalling?

Muhr AsiaAfrica shorts will be screened in three separate programmes during the fifth annual Dubai International Film Festival, from December 11 to 18. For further information or to buy tickets, please visit the festival website at www.dubaifilmfest.com.

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