Top South Asian Films to Make International, Regional Premieres at DIFF

Thu Nov 17,2005

Dubai, November 16, 2005 – Some of the best cinema to emerge from the subcontinent in recent years will make their international and regional debuts at the second Dubai International Film Festival next month. The nine films in the Festival’s Cinema from the Subcontinent program include two world premieres – brand new films that have never been screened before; two international premieres – which have been screened only in their country of origin; and five Middle East premieres. “The South Asian population of the UAE is one of the Festival’s key audiences, and we have worked hard to bring the best films from those countries to DIFF,” Festival Director and CEO Neil Stephenson said. “These are astounding pieces of cinema that deserve widespread distribution to international audiences, and we take great pleasure in showcasing them to residents and visitors in this region.” Uma Da Cunha, programmer for the Cinema for the Subcontinent section, said while the selected films reflected a mix of established and emerging directors, the caliber of filmmaking is of the highest quality. “Quality filmmaking, good stories and strong content – that is what all nine films have in common,” Da Cunha said. “We want to show that all four countries have a very high standard of filmmaking, with stories that appeal beyond national and linguistic borders.” In response to feedback from the inaugural edition of DIFF, this year’s program includes films in all the major South Asian languages to appeal to the many diverse communities in the UAE, and as many brand new films as possible. One of the section’s top draws is sure to be Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara (I Did Not Kill Gandhi), directed by nine-time National Award winner Jahnu Barua and starring producer/actor Anupam Kher, one of India’s finest character actors. The film, which will be making its international premiere in Dubai, has been described by the BBC as being “the kind of thought-provoking, non-musical film Bollywood is capable of making but sadly rarely does,” and deals with the twin themes of senile dementia and the steady erosion of Gandhian ideologies in modern-day India. In the film, Kher plays a retired Hindi professor who begins suffering periods of forgetfulness, and as his memories start to fade with the onset of Alzheimer’s recalls a childhood trauma where he is accused of murdering the Mahatma. The film is in Hindi with English subtitles. The Cinema from the Subcontinent program also includes Pakistan’s first digital feature film, Raat Chali Hai Jhoom Ke (The Long Night), which will make its Middle East premiere during the December 11 – 17 Festival. The film, directed by Hasan Zaidi and starring Faisal Rehman and Nadia Jamil, focuses on a US-educated entrepreneur who gets caught up in a romantic caper over the phone with a woman he has never met. The night before an important business deal with Microsoft, the lady orders him to meet her in the run-down market area where she lives. What happens next has the central character experiencing a collision of two extremely disparate worlds, and a night unlike any other. From Bangladesh, the film Shankhonad will also be making its Middle East premiere after rave reviews at home and abroad. Directed by Abu Sayeed and starring Zahid Hasan, the film follows the return of Osman to his village after a 27-year absence following the terrible storm that left him an orphan and led to his exile. Guerilla Marketing, a highly acclaimed Sri Lankan film directed by Jayantha Chandrasiri and starring Kamal Addaraarachichi, Jackson Anthony and Yashoda Wimaladharma, will also be making its Middle East premiere at DIFF 2005. Focused on the conflict between modernity and tradition, the film has been seen as an indictment of globalization and an in-depth study of the human psyche. The slickly edited film follows a schizophrenic but exceptionally talented advertising professional who loses his grip on reality and disperses with his integrity as he works on a presidential election campaign. The announcement of the remaining Cinema from the Subcontinent films will be made at the end of November, alongside the unveiling of the entire 2005 Festival program 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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