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Festival About DIFF Policies Connect
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Wed Nov 6, 2013
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The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) released its much-anticipated book of Arab Cinema titled “Cinema of Passion”, compiled with input from over 475 of the region’s and international most prominent film critics, writers, novelists, academics, and other arts professionals, and created with the support of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (DCAA) at a special event hosted on Wednesday 6th November at the DIFF offices.

Each Arab and international cultural figure was invited to select the 10 most important films in the history of Arab cinema, and the results were compiled to form the final top 100.

The top 10 is a who’s who of Arab Cinema of the past decades and is a diverse selection with several of the Egyptian classics coming in the top ten, with first place going to director and set designer Chadi Abdel Salem’s (1930-1986) only feature, the mysterious The Mummy (1969).

Two of Youssef Chahine’s (1926-2008) classics, Cairo Station (1958) and The Land (1969), sit at second and fourth place, respectively, and Daoud Abdel Sayed’s Kit Kat took eighth place as the fourth Egyptian film in the top ten.
North Africa is further represented by Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina’s (1975) film Chronicle of the Years of Fire, which portrays the Algerian struggle for independence, in third place, and Tunisian director Moufida Tlatli’s The Silence of the Palaces (1994).

Coming of age tale Dreams of the City (1983), by Syrian master Mohamed Malas, enters the top ten in sixth place, and the allegorical Divine Intervention (2001), by Palestinian director Elia Suleiman, follows in seventh. Lebanese Director Ziad Doueri’s popular West Beirut (1998) sits at ninth place, and The Dupes, by Egyptian director Tewfik Taleh (produced in Syria), rounds out the list at number ten.

The project is the first of its kind in the Arab world. DIFF Chairman Abdulhamid Juma expanded on the project’s importance to the festival: “The “Cinema for Passion” project is the perfect way to celebrate DIFF’s landmark tenth edition this year. Since the festival’s inception, our core mandate has been to celebrate, promote and nurture Arab cinema, and the book adds an important dimension of preserving and analyzing the region’s film treasures.”

He added, “Importantly, the project also recognizes a rich tradition of Arab intellectuals and film specialists. Cultural workers are often unsung heroes of the film industry, overshadowed in the public eye by master directors like Youssef Chahine or timeless stars like Soad Hosny. However, it is the critics, academics and other cultural figures that love, publicise and cherish these films long after they have left the box office.”

DIFF Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali praised the project as a longitudinal study of Arab cinema: “Given the rapid pace of change in the Arab world today, a project that stresses the continuity of Arab artistic output is refreshing. Arab filmmakers have seen the region through generations of change, and their work has shaped impressions of contemporary reality since the beginning. “Cinema of Passion” highlights the rich legacy of Arab cinema and situates contemporary filmmakers alongside those who came before.

The top 100 film list is accompanied by a critical and historical approach to Arab cinema and an analytical study for the list according to Arab epistemological, sociological, and political order by the editor of “Cinema of Passion” and film critic Ziad Abdullah. In addition to a scholarly and critical treatment of each film on the list by 20 prominent Arab film critics in English and Arabic, including historical data, information on the productions, and background on the key creatives that made the films possible.

Following its release, “Cinema of Passion” will be distributed to international and regional libraries as an indispensable reference to the study of Arab cinema.
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