FOR PUBLISHING FILM NEWS, PROFILE, INTERVIEW, PREVIEW, REVIEW AND OTHER ARTICLES.
E-MAIL: moidugt@gmail.com

Sunday, December 19, 2010

DIFF’10 wind up with honouring ceremony for winners


36 Muhr Awards and US$600,000 in prize money presented in Muhr Emirati, Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica categories
Muhr Emirati first prize was won by Nayla Al Khaja for Malal (Bored) – UAE.

Soiko (The Earrings)
Un Mardi (A Tuesday)

Sabine El Chamaa’s Un Mardi (A Tuesday) is the first prize winner of Muhr Arab Short Film. Muhr AsiaAfrica Short Film first price was won by Nargiza Mamatkulova for Soiko (The Earrings).




Mahmoud Al Massad won the first price of Muhr Arab Documentary for Hathihi Swrati Wa Ana Mayet (This Is My Picture When I Was Dead). First Prize for Muhr Asia Africa Documentary winner is Jia Zhang-Ke for Hai Shang Chuan Qi (I Wish I Knew).
Georges Hachem is the winner of Muhr Arab Feature for the film Rsassa Taycheh (Stray Bullet). Bushra fetched the Muhr Arab Feature best actress award for 678 (Six, Seven, Eight) and the best actor was Maged El Kidwaany for 678 (Six, Seven, Eight). Muhr AsiaAfrica Feature first price was won by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun for Un Homme Qui Crie (A Screaming Man). Muhr AsiaAfrica Feature best actress award winner is Kobra Hasanzadeh Esfahani for Marham (Salve) and Youssouf Djaoro for Un Homme Qui Crie (A Screaming Man) is the best actor.


Lifetime Achievement honours presented to Sean Penn, Sabah and Souleymane Cisse

International and regional celebrities, UAE leadership walk the red carpet

The seventh Dubai International Film Festival wrapped on Sunday with a glittering awards ceremony honouring the best of world and regional cinema and talent of the last year and shining a light on outstanding emerging filmmakers.
The closing red carpet and awards ceremony drew UAE royalty including HH Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, HH Sheikh Mansour Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and HH Sheikh Saeed Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, as well as international and regional stars.
The 2010 Festival, considered the strongest, most accessible and exciting yet, played host to a line-up of 157 films from 57 countries including an outstanding array of contemporary Arab cinema; a robust competition focused on the UAE, the Arab world, Asia and Africa; a growing industry dimension and new public initiatives. The Sunday night awards ceremony, held at the Madinat Jumeirah, showcased the highlights of each section.
Diff Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali said: “This week, at Diff’10, we sampled the best cinema from around the world with a particular emphasis on work from the Arab world, Asia and Africa. All three of our competitions – the Muhr Arab, Muhr AsiaAfrica and Muhr Emirati – were outstanding this year, and one of our greatest challenges was to whittle the entries down to an initial shortlist. Tonight’s winners come from that shortlist, but even those who leave without a Muhr Award have reason to be proud.”
More than 36 of the Festival’s prestigious Muhr Awards were presented to the finest Arab, AsiaAfrica and Emirati films and talent. The winners of the Muhr Arab competition, which drew more than 400 entries from 42 nations, are:
For Muhr Arab Short Films:
Second Prize: Halima Ouardiri for Mokhtar — Canada
Special Jury Prize: Abdenour Zahzah for Garagouz — Algeria
First Prize: Sabine El Chamaa for Un Mardi (A Tesday) — Lebanon
For Muhr Arab Documentary:
Special Mention: Iman Kamel for Beit Sha'ar (Nomad's Home) — Egypt, Germany, Kuwait, UAE
Special Mention: Abdallah Al Ghoul for Tathkara Min Azrael (Ticket From Azrael) — Egypt, Germany, Kuwait, UAE
Second Prize: Soudade Kaadan for Saqf Dimashq Wa Hykayat Al Jannah (Damascus Roof And Tales Of Paradise) — Syria, Qatar
Special Jury Prize: Omar Sharqawi for Fra Haifa Til Noerrebro (My Father From Haifa) — Denmark
First Prize: Mahmoud Al Massad for Hathihi Swrati Wa Ana Mayet (This Is My Picture When I Was Dead) — Netherlands, USA, UAE
For Muhr Arab Feature
Best Cinematography: Xavier Castro for Pegase (Pegasus) —Morocco
Best Composer: Essam Rafea for Matar Ayloul (September Rain) — Syria
Best Editor: Hicham Saqer for Microphone — Egypt
Best Screenplay: Jillali Ferhati for Des L'aube (At Dawn) — Morocco
Best Actress: Bushra for 678 (Six, Seven, Eight) — Egypt
Best Actor: Maged El Kidwaany for 678 (Six, Seven, Eight) — Egypt
Special Jury Prize: Mohammed Al Hushki for Mudon Al Tranzit (Transit Cities) — Jordan
First Prize: Georges Hachem for Rsassa Taycheh (Stray Bullet) – Lebanon
The Muhr AsiaAfrica competition drew 445 entries from 62 countries, including 110 documentaries, 136 features and 199 short films. The winners of the Muhr AsiaAfrica awards include:
Muhr AsiaAfrica Short Films:
Second Prize: Jong-chul Park for Unfunny Game — South Korea
Special Jury Prize: Chih Yi Wen for Sleeping With Her — Taiwan
First Prize: Nargiza Mamatkulova for Soiko (The Earrings) — Kyrgyzstan
Muhr AsiaAfrica Documentary:
Special Mention: Ashvin Kumar for Inshallah, Football — India
Special Mention: Shahin Parhami for Amin — Iran, Canada, South Africa
Second Prize: John Akomfrah for The Nine Muses — Ghana, UK
Special Jury Prize: Ariane Astrid Atodji for Koundi Et Le Jeudi National (Koundi And The National Thursday) — Cameroon
First Prize: Jia Zhang-Ke for Hai Shang Chuan Qi (I Wish I Knew) – China
Muhr AsiaAfrica Feature
Special Mention: Lee Min-Ji for Jimseung Ui Kkut (End Of Animal) — South Korea
Best Cinematography: Sayombhu Mukdeeprom and Yukonteorn Mingmongkon for Loong Boonmee Raleuk Chaat (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives) — UK, Thailand, Spain, Germany, France
Best Composer: Jonny Greenwood for Norwegian Wood — Japan
Best Editor: Marie-Helene Dozo for Un Homme Qui Crie (A Screaming Man) — France, Chad, Belgium
Best Screenplay: Mohsen Abdolvahab for Lotfan Mozahem Nashavid (Please Do Not Disturb) — Iran
Best Actress: Kobra Hasanzadeh Esfahani for Marham (Salve) — Iran
Best Actor: Youssouf Djaoro for Un Homme Qui Crie (A Screaming Man) — France, Chad, Belgium
Special Jury Prize: Oliver Schmitz for Le Secret De Chanda (Life, Above All) — South Africa, Germany
First Prize: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun for Un Homme Qui Crie (A Screaming Man) — France, Chad, Belgium
For the first time, Diff presented the Muhr Emirati Awards for excellence in filmmaking to UAE filmmakers. Fourteen films made by UAE nationals competed in the first Muhr Emirati shortlisted from more than 30 entries.
The winners are:
Muhr Emirati:
Special Mention: Waleed Al Shehhi for Reeh (Wind) — UAE
Second Prize: Khalid Al Mahmood for Sabeel — UAE
Special Jury Prize: Nujoom Alghanem for Hamama — UAE
First Prize: Nayla Al Khaja for Malal (Bored) – UAE
The Festival also presented a series of special awards, including the FIPRESCI International Prize of the Critics Award, the Human Rights Film Network Award, the Damas People’s Choice Award, and a brand new ‘People Who Make a DIFFerence’ Award. Additional prizes for the DIFF Young Journalist and Dubai Film Connection were presented earlier in the week.
The annual ‘Prize of the International Critics’ for Arab films from the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI), the world’s foremost body of film writers, academics and critics from over 60 countries, went to: ‘2 ½’ directed by Elie Kamal (Lebanon); ‘Zelal’ by Marianne Khoury and Mustapha Hasnaoui (Egypt/France/Morocco/UAE) and ‘Mudon Al Tranzit – Transit Cities’ by Mohammed Al Hushki (Jordan) in the shorts, documentary and feature film categories, respectively.
The Damas People’s Choice Award for 2010, voted by the members of the public after watching the movies at the festival screening venues – Cinestar at the Mall of the Emirates, First Group Theatre, at Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Madinat Arena, and The Walk at JBR – was clinched by Omar Sharqawi for Fra Haifa Til Noerrebro (My Father From Haifa) — Denmark
Diff also presented Sarah Al Gethami, a Saudi student at Middlesex University in Dubai, with the DIFF Young Journalist Award.
The awards ceremony also feted the three DIFF Lifetime Achievement Award honourees for 2010, including American film icon and international social and political activist Sean Penn; leading African director Souleymane Cisse and Egyptian-Lebanese icon Sabah.
The Muhr Emirati, Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica award winning films will be screened at Cinestar cinemas at Mall of the Emirates on Monday, Dec. 20, 2010.
The seventh edition of the Dubai International Film Festival showcased an impressive line-up of 157 films from 57 countries including an outstanding array of contemporary Arab cinema. These included 41 world premieres, 13 international premieres, 58 Middle East premieres and 32 Gulf premieres, and a host of A-list talent. Nearly half the Diff’10 films – 70 – were by or about Arab people, subjects and places.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saudi student wins DIFF Young Journalist Award


Sarah Al Gethami, a Saudi student at Middlesex University in Dubai, won the DIFF Young Journalist Award at the seventh edition of the festival.
This year, the focus of the Diff Young Journalist Award programme, held in partnership with CNBC Business and Screen International, was on the evolution of journalism, led by social media comprising blogging and tweeting, and its effect on the world of media.
Colin Brown of CNBC Business and Mike Goodridge of Screen International mentored ten selected students in a series of open workshops and a mentoring programme at the Film Forum Room, as part of the programme.
The students were briefed on various aspects of film journalism — film reviews, interviewing talent and industry professionals, monitoring trends, commercial, independent, and foreign film through new technologies such as blogging and Twitter.
Al Gethami, a student at the Middlesex University’s Advertising, PR and Media programme, said: “I had a true experience of film journalism at Diff. I interviewed a lot of people, which was a first for me. Overall, it was totally gratifying and a memorable event for me.”
The programme featured two workshops: “The Future of Film Business Journalism” and “The Role of Journalism at Film Festivals.” Participants of the workshops also used the Festival as their live laboratory to test their skills on deadline and submit their work to the mentors. The selected pieces were published in the Festival’s official newspaper, DIFF Daily.
Launched in 2008 as part of the Dubai Film Market’s commitment to enhance and educate the reporting and writing skills of students within the media and arts film, the Young Journalist Award programme provide students with hands-on training in the development of the culture of cinema appreciation and the film industry.


‘2 ½’, ‘Zelal’ and ‘Transit Cities’ win FIPRESCI ‘Prize of the International Critics’ at DIFF

The seventh Dubai International Film Festival has announced the winners of the International Federation of Film Critics’ (FIPRESCI) annual ‘Prize of the International Critics’ for the Arab feature, documentary, and short films screened in the Muhr Arab award competition at the festival.
‘2 ½’ (Two and a Half)

The winners are: ‘2 ½’ (Two and a Half) directed by Elie Kamal (Lebanon); ‘Zelal’ by Marianne Khoury and Mustapha Hasnaoui (Egypt/France/Morocco/UAE) and ‘Mudon Al Tranzit – Transit Cities’ by Mohammed Al Hushki (Jordan) in the shorts, documentary and feature film categories, respectively.



The feature and short films were evaluated by a jury headed by film critic Andrzej Werner and comprising film critics Gulbara Tolomushova and Mohammed Rouda, while the jury for documentary films was headed by film critic Magda Mihailescu, along with Leo Soesanto and Hala El Mawy.
Zelal
FIPRESCI is the foremost body of film writers, academics and critics from over 60 countries. The organisation has partnered with Diff to encourage emerging talent and promote Arab cinema globally. In all, 12 feature films, 15 short films and 13 documentaries, competing for the Muhr Arab awards, were evaluated for the prize.
Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Artistic Director, Dubai International Film Festival, said: “For decades, FIPRESCI has partnered with international film festivals the world over to nurture and promote the growth of emerging talent. It is an honour for Diff to partner with FIPRESCI and help provide a window of opportunity for the Arab film industry to reach out to an international audience.”


Spain bestows ‘Order of the Civil Merit’ on DIFF Artistic Director


Masoud Amralla Al Ali honoured for the Festival’s and his contribution to strengthening UAE-Spain relations
His Majesty King Juan Carlos of Spain conferred the grade of Officer in the Order of the Civil Merit of the Kingdom of Spain upon Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Artistic Director of the Diff, at a special ceremony during the seventh Diff at the Madinat Jumeirah.
His Excellency Gonzalo de Benito, the Ambassador of Spain to the UAE, presented the honour at a ceremony held at the Festival Headquarters. The order, instituted by Spain in 1926 to decorate Spanish nationals or foreigners who have contributed to political, economic, cultural or human relations with Spain, recognizes Al Ali and the Festival’s contribution to strengthening relations between the UAE and Spain.
“We are very pleased and honored to confer the Order of the Civil Merit of Spain on the Artistic Director of the Festival, a true link between Spain, the Spanish culture and the UAE. This is also a recognition of this fine cultural event, the Dubai International Film Festival, one of the most important events worldwide on the international festival circuit, and everyone who works on its behalf,” says His Excellency Gonzalo de Benito.
Among the 157 films from 57 nations showing at Diff this year is Spanish film ‘Biutiful,’ by the award-winning director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and starring Javier Bardem.
Diff Chairman Abdulhamid Juma said: “We are honoured by the recognition from His Majesty King Juan Carlos of Spain for our Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali. It is a testament to strong relations between Diff and the Spanish community.”
He added: “Spain produces some of the most powerful movies, and has legendary talent who inspire filmmakers and actors across the world. Diff has hosted Spanish celebrities such as Pedro Almodovar, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, and continuously emphasised on showcasing Spanish films. This year, we have also joined hands with Spain’s San Sebastian International Film Festival to promote Arab filmmakers in Europe, taking our partnership with Spain another step further.”
Diff has also initiated cooperation with the film governing conglomerate Capital Regions for Cinema (CRC), opening doors for Arab filmmakers to key European markets. CRC is a network of the film agencies of Berlin-Brandenburg, the Comunidad de Madrid, Paris-Ile de France and Rome-Lazio.


DIFF’10 closing ceremony live on Abu Dhabi Emarat Channel


The closing night red carpet and awards ceremony of the seventh Dubai International Film Festival will be telecast live exclusively on Abu Dhabi Emarat Channel on Sunday, Dec. 19 from 6pm, followed by a repeat telecast on Monday morning, Dec. 20, the Festival and Abu Dhabi Media Company announced.
Highlights of the finale of Diff’10 include the Festival’s honouring of its 2010 Lifetime Achievement Honourees; and the presentation of the 2010 Muhr Arab, Muhr Asia Africa and Muhr Emirati Awards. The live telecast will also cover the red carpet ceremony to be attended by international celebrities and stars from the Arab world and the UAE.
The prestigious awards, for the best feature, documentary and short films and talent from the Arab world and the two continents, will be accompanied by prizes in excess of $600,000. In addition, Diff will also present the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI), Human Rights Film Network, Damas People’s Choice, Dubai Film Connection and DIFF Young Journalist awards.

Workshop on Film & TV production


The seventh Dubai International Film Festival and Gulf Radio & TV Organisation hosted a workshop dedicated to the development of film and television production in the GCC.
The workshop, hosted by Diff Chairman Abdulhamid Juma, presented an overview of the current film and television production landscape in the Gulf countries and explored ways to advance the production of films and programmes in the region.
The panelists from around the GCC included: Mohamed Abdallah Al Marzouk and Ahmad Almansouri (UAE); Rashed Hassan Al Judar (Bahrain); Hassan Mohamad Al Hamdan (KSA); Dr Khaled Adelraheem Al Zadjali (Oman); Dr Rabiaa Al Kawari (Qatar); Abdel Muhsen Al Banay (Kuwait) and Dr Abdallah Ben Saiid Abu Ras (Gulf Radio & TV, KSA).
Other topics of discussion included the influence of emerging cinematographic technology on television content, ‘Competition and quality: finding the balance,’ how production quality is affected by a large number of decision makers and marketing audiovisual content and its influence on home audiences.


DIFF’10 host public conversation with Colin Farrell


 Actor Colin Farrell, attending the seventh Dubai International Film Festival for the ‘Cinema of the World’ gala of his movie ‘The Way Back,’ will participate in a public ‘In Conversation With,’ question-and-answer session with fans on Sunday, Dec. 19 at the First Group Theatre, Madinat Jumeirah, from 4 to 5pm. Tickets to the event, priced at Dhs25, are on sale now.
Colin Farrell, has legions of fans across the world, and had earlier walked the red carpet at Diff along with the cast of ‘The Way Back,’ including Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong, Dragoş Bucur and Gustaf Skarsgård.
The Way Back
The Way Back, the first film in seven years from master director Peter Weir, is an Exclusive Media Group, National Geographic Entertainment and Imagenation Abu Dhabi presentation and an Exclusive Films presentation. The gripping film tells the story of a multicultural group of prisoners who escape from a Stalinist gulag during World War II but then have to survive walking more than 5,000 miles of treacherous trails across five countries to gain their freedom.



Thursday, December 16, 2010

People caught in challenging situations are focus of Iranian cinema at Diff’10

The seventh edition of the Dubai International Film Festival has two powerful films from Iran that tell us the stories of people caught in challenging situations.
The House Under the Water
Iranian filmmaker Sepideh Farsi’s feature film, ‘The House Under the Water (Khaneye Zire Ab)’ marks its World Premiere at Diff, on Friday, Dec. 17, 6pm at Cinestar 2, MoE. The film follows two teenagers, Morteza and Taher, who are involved in the accidental drowning of Taher’s younger brother. Thirty years later, Morteza is freshly released from prison and looking to rebuild his life when he is suspected in a death of another drowned child – and Taher, now a police officer, is investigating. The film will also be screened on Dec. 18, 3.15pm at Cinestar 6.

Director Mohsen Abdolvahab debuts with ‘Please Do Not Disturb,’ tells three stories that take place in Tehran, Iran. In the first story, an young woman who has been beaten by her husband. The woman is about to complain to the authorities, but the husband is concerned about his job and the embarrassment. The next story is about a clergyman whose wallet and documents have been stolen. The clergyman enters into a complicated negotiation with the thief. The last story is about an elderly couple whose TV has broken. The couple are alone in the building and are afraid of opening the door to the young repairman. The film will be screened on Friday 8.30pm at Cinestar 3.
The Hunter
‘The Hunter,’ from Iranian director Rafi Pitts of ‘Season Five’ and ‘Sanam’ fame, follows a Tehrani man who snaps and turns sniper after losing his wife and six-year-old daughter in the run-up to Iran’s disputed 2009 elections. The film, a Gulf premiere, will be screened on Dec. 18, 9pm at Cinestar 1, and on Dec. 19, 2.45pm at Cinestar 9.
Shahin Parhami’s documentary ‘Amin’ is a journey of discovery into the heartlands of Iran and the slowly disappearing folk music of the ancient Qashqai tribes of southern Iran. The film is a powerful meditation on cultural loss through the eyes of a postgraduate music student on a quest to find himself. The film, a Middle East premiere, will be screened Friday, 3.30pm at Cinestar 7.

DFC selects 15 projects for production support


The Dubai Film Connection (DFC), the co-production market of the Dubai International Film Festival, has selected 15 new regional film projects for potential production support from over 130 submissions from Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Palestine, Algeria, Syria and Iraq, among other regional markets.
The 15 films selected for the 2010-2011 cycle include 12 projects in development and three works in progress. The former include: Ali the Goat and Ibrahim by Ibrahim El Batout (Egypt/France); The Eagle and the Butterfly by Philippe Aractingi (Lebanon/France); The Bag of Flour by Khadija Leclere (Belgium/Morocco/France); Housekeeping by Mazen Khaled (Lebanon/Egypt); Gulf entry I am Nojood, 10 years old and Divorced, directed by Khadija Al Salami (Yemen/France); One Day and 124 Nights by Sabine El Chamma (Lebanon); The Replacement by Gilles Tarazi (Lebanon) and Standstill by Majdi El-Omari (Canada).
The shortlist also includes Trempoline (The Tree) by Elie Khalife (Lebanon); and documentary Fidai by Damien Ounouri, the first co-production with China at the DFC and a joint Algeria/France/China production. Algerian director and Muhr Award winner Merzak Allouache returns to the Dubai Film Connection with The Time of the Concord, as does compatriot Abdenour Zahzah’s documentary The River.
The three Work-in-Progress films are: Confession & Struggle, a documentary by Eliane Raheb (Lebanon); Rehleh, a feature by Meyar Al Roumi (Syria) and In Search of Oil and Sand, another documentary by EAVE graduate Philippe Dib (Egypt).
DFC, part of the Festival’s Dubai Film Market, opens doors to directors of Levant, Maghreb, Gulf or North African origin more than US$110,000 in seed funds and valuable industry connections. Since its inception in 2007, the DFC has showcased a total of over 52 projects of which 15 films have been completed and nine are in production.
Diff’10 will screen three films completed through DFC, highlighting the festival’s contribution to creating a strong film industry infrastructure by supporting projects from ideation to distribution. These films are: Zelal directed by Marianne Khoury and Mustapha Hasnaoui; This is My Picture When I was Dead by Mahmoud Al Massad; and Beit Sha’ar (Nomad’s Home) by Iman Kamel.
Shivani Pandya, DIFF Managing Director, said: “The most striking aspect of Dubai Film Connection is the high realisation rate of the projects at over 50 per cent. While globally films take about four years for completion, in just three years, we have facilitated the completion of 15 films with another nine nearing completion.”
Filmmakers whose projects have been chosen by DFC have also benefited from industry workshops hosted by Diff. The director and producer of Beit Sha’ar, Iman Kamel and Talal Al-Muhanna, respectively, are graduates of the Professional Coaching for Producers Programme hosted in collaboration with European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs (EAVE), one of Europe’s leading training and development organisations, to offer professional coaching for producers.

DIFF announces winners of the first Poster Competition


The Dubai International Film Festival, (Dec. 12-19), has announced the winners of the poster competition, which invited individuals around the Gulf region to ‘Capture the Essence of Diff.’
The winners, selected by a panel of experts based on creativity, originality, and relevance, are: Midori Yoshino, Hala Gebran, Harold Bravo Cabansag, Shamsa Al Nabooda, Hadeel Walid, Ishita B. Saha, Romy Ravinoran, Salim Stephan, Basma Hamdy and Zeenathul Dhahlan.
They received special-access packs to Diff 2010, including a 25-ticket voucher pack and a DIFF Gala ticket pack with access to select red carpet gala screenings.
The competition was open to any individual practicing art across the Gulf, whether student or self-taught, full-time or part-time, professional or hobbyist, working in any medium or style. Photography, painting, drawing, computer-aided illustrations and other forms of 2-D work were welcomed.



DIFF’10 selects ‘Rehleh’ for post-production funding


Enjaaz programme of DIFF has selected nine projects already this year 
Applications for the first 2011 cycle open until February 2011
Enjaaz, the dedicated post-production fund of the Diff, has selected ‘Rehleh,’ a project by Meyar Al Roumi, as the tenth project this year to receive financial support.
Launched by the Dubai Film Market, the comprehensive script-to-screen industry initiative and the largest of its kind film market in the Arab world, Enjaaz selects up to 15 documentary and fiction feature filmmakers to receive up to US$100,000 annually to provide funds and support for films in development.
DIFF Managing Director Shivani Pandya said: “Enjaaz steps in at the most critical juncture in the evolution of a film from ideation to completion, by offering valuable support for post-production. ‘Rehleh’ is a compelling story, which like other Enjaaz-supported funds, has the potential to win global acclaim.”
Produced by Jerome Bleitrach under the banner of Bizibi, ‘Rehleh’ is a fiction feature which features two stories. The first is story of two young lovers on a quest for survival amidst the imposing restrictions of their society. The second is a story of disillusionment and an abandonment of love upon tasting the freedom the lovers were so desperate for. Set in Damascus and Tehran, ‘Rehleh’ is a journey of introspection and revelation.
On the premise of his film, Meyar says: “I wanted to start from a practical situation: When not married how can two young people live out their love in Syria? The issue of Walid and Souhaire is a starting point, and my goal was to focus on the feelings of my characters.”
Arab filmmakers around the world can apply for the first cycle of the 2011 edition of Ejaaz until February 1, 2011. The decision on distribution of funds will be made on March 15, 2011. In the second cycle, entries will close on August 1, 2011, and funding decisions announced by September 15, 2011. Details on submission requirements are available at www.dubaifilmfest.com.
To qualify for selection, the final cut of the feature films must be a work of fiction that equals or exceeds 60 minutes in length, while documentary films must be non-fiction that exceeds 50 minutes. Films must be directed by an Arab filmmaker and the subject and storyline of the film must be centred on the Arab world, Arab history, and/or Arab culture for the respective competitions.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Stars of ‘Cairo Exit’ joins celebrities for red carpet gala


The stars of Egyptian film, ‘Cairo Exit,’ which marks its World Premiere at the Cultural Bridge gala of the seventh Dubai International Film Festival (Diff) will join an international celebrity line-up on the red carpet on Thursday, Dec. 16.
The ‘Cairo Exit’ star line-up includes actors Maryhan, Mohammed Ramadan and Sanna Muzian, and director Hesham Issawi. They will be joined by Catherine Deneuve, the French actress nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in ‘Indochine,’ and Sendhil Ramamoorthy, the star of ‘Shorr – Noise,’ the Indian film which marks its Middle East premiere at DIFF. Sendhil is best known for his role in the NBC series ‘Heroes.’
A dedicated fan enclosure has been opened for the public to watch the red carpet ceremony. The ‘Cultural Bridge’ celebrations of Diff will also be held at The Walk at JBR, where colourful dance and music performances will be held from 2pm, followed by the ‘Rhythm & Reel’ screening of ‘My Wife’s Husband’ a film by Niazi Mostafa and the concert of Lebanese classical Arabic singer Rima Khcheiche. The screening at The Walk at JBR is free for the public.


‘Salam – The Cultural Bridge Day’ promotes intercultural dialogue through cinema


The seventh Dubai International Film Festival  will host its ‘Salam – The Cultural Bridge Day’ on Thursday, December 16 with the objective of promoting intercultural dialogue and reflecting the credo of the festival, ‘Bridging Cultures. Meeting Minds.’
‘Salam – The Cultural Bridge Day’ will open with the screening of Egyptian director Hesham Issawi’s Cairo Exit, a powerful account of life in contemporary Cairo about two star-crossed lovers.
‘Salam – The Cultural Bridge Day’ is a significant component of the festival, highlighting its commitment to promote universal harmony through intercultural dialogue. With over 200 nationalities, Dubai is uniquely positioned to foster dialogue, and Cultural Bridge Day is a perfect fit to the ethos of the city and the festival.
The new venue of DIFF, The Walk at JBR is hosting a series of colourful events to mark the ‘Salam – The Cultural Bridge Day.’ Global Village is presenting some of this season’s most exciting international street entertainment. The festivities start at 2pm and will conclude with the open air screening, free to the public, of ‘My Wife’s Husband’ a film by Niazi Mostafa and the concert of Lebanese classical Arabic singer Rima Khcheiche.
At the venue, visitors can also take part in the popular digital photo-booths set up by Fishfayce. 
A new addition this year is the Peace Wall hosted by Diff in partnership with The JamJar Gallery. The public can participate in ‘Salam – The Cultural Bridge Day’ by sending messages of peace that will be depicted on the ‘Peace Wall.’
‘Salam – The Cultural Bridge Day’ will screen a repertoire of thought-provoking movies at Cinestar, MoE, including, Ebhram Saeedi’s Mandoo (MoE 12, 12.30pm); Aamir Bashir’s Harud (Autumn) (MoE 11, 1.00pm); Kaouther Ben Hania’s Les Imams Vont A L’Ecole (Imams go to School) (MoE 6, 3.15pm); Daniel Rudi Haryanto’s Prison and Paradise (MoE 5, 3.30pm); Ricky Tognazzi’s Il Padre E Lo Straniero (The Father and The Foreigner) (MoE 11, 4.15pm); Leila Sansour’s Al Tareeq Ila Bait Lahem (The Road to Bethlehem) (MoE 9, 6.00pm); Pradeepan Raveendran’s Les Ombres Du Silence (Shadows of Silence) (MoE 10, 6.30pm); Alireza Davoodnejad’s Marham (Salve) (MoE 12, 7.00pm); Wi Ding Ho’s Pinoy Sunday (MoE 1, 9.30pm); and John Akomfrah’s The Nine Muses (MoE 5, 9.45pm).


DIFF’10 celebrates Emirati talent


In a powerful demonstration of the evolution and growth achieved by the UAE film industry, the seventh Dubai International Film Festival on Tuesday hosted 15 Emirati filmmakers whose films – including features, documentaries and shorts – are being screened at the festival.
“These directors are also competing for the first Muhr Emirati awards introduced at the festival this year. Their films include 12 world premieres, and were shortlisted from over 30 entries, underscoring the growing interest of Emiratis in films and in creating a home-grown film industry powered by initiatives like DIFF,” said Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Artistic Director, Dubai International Film Festival.

The filmmakers who attended a special photo call and later addressed a press conference are: Abdulla Al Kaabi (The Philosopher); Nayla Al Khaja (Malal); Ali Al Jabri (Solo); Saeed Aldhaheri (Rajulan Wa Anza – Laylat Ma Qabl Al Eid); Rashid and Ahmed Bin Shabib (Brownbook Urban Series – Ten Episodes of People Transforming the Region); Muna Al Ali (Ea’ada); Waleed Al Shehhi (Reeh  - Wind); Ahmed Zain (Etma – Darkness); Moath Bin Hafez (Hayat Min Sakhar -Life of Stone); Saud Mohammed Merwesh (Soweer); Ali Khalifa Bin Thalith (Ghawas Gaza - Gaza Diver); Rashid Al-Marri (Rasa’el Ela Falasteen - Letters To Palestine); Khalid Al Mahmood (Sabeel) and Nujoom Al Ghanem (Hamama).
A three-member jury, including film critic Samir Farid (president), writer-poet and Riyadh Film Festival veteran Ahmed Al-Mulla and poet/critic Ibrahim Abdul Karim Al Mulla, will select three competition winners to be announced at the awards ceremony on December 19. Introduced this year as a companion to the Festival’s existing Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica awards, the Muhr Emirati Awards features a first prize of Dhs35,000, a special jury prize of Dhs25,000 and a second prize of Dhs15,000. 


Love stories from Syria and Iraq in the spotlight at DIFF’10

September Rain
Powerful movies from Syria and Iraq are gaining strong audience interest at the seventh Dubai International Film Festival. With strong historical overtures, the films have a backdrop of love and emotional bonding, which finds universal resonance.

Damascus With Love
Legendary actor-director Abdullatif Abdulhamid’s ‘September Rain,’ opens in 1940s Damascus, where a young man is listening to a broadcast of the songs of the buzuq player, Muhammad Abdul Karim. Flipping to the present day, the young man is now a father with a fruit-selling business, bringing up his large, musical family alone, following the death of his beloved wife, and surviving in a world of corrupt officialdom and class divides. Abdullatif Abdulhamid evokes the family and community dramas of both generations brilliantly in this witty, affectionate yet devastating portrayal of life in the Syrian capital. September Rain will screen on Dec. 17, 5.45pm at Cinestar 5, MoE.
Acclaimed Iraqi director Kassem Hawal’s 'The Singer', brings an insight into the era of dictatorship in Iraq, with the story of Bashir, a singer who is due to perform for the despot. The film screens on Dec. 15, 9.30pm at Cinestar 2 and on Dec. 18, 3.45pm at Cinestar 8.
Director Mohamad Abdulaziz’s ‘Damascus With Love,’ is about Rima, a Syrian-Jewish girl who is about to emigrate from Damascus. When her father reveals an old secret to her at the airport, she cancels her trip and returns to explore the past. 'Damascus With Love' is a film about love, people, memory and place. The film will screen on Dec. 16, 6.45pm at First Group Theatre in Madinat Souk and on Dec. 18, 10pm at Cinestar 8.


Story of hope and despair from Mexico to Mongolia at DIFF’10

A compelling showcase of films, from as far afield as Mexico to Morocco to Mongolia, is among the highlights of the seventh Dubai International Film Festival, today (Wednesday, Dec. 15).
Director Sebastian Hiriart's debut feature, ‘A Stone’s Throw Away’ is an imaginative reflection on the desire and need of so many Mexicans to find their way, whatever the obstacles, to the promised land of the United States. Screening at 12.45pm at Cinestar 8, MoE.
Passion
‘The Dead Sea,’ another Mexican film by director Ignacio Ortiz Cruz, is shot in a grainy, noir style and is a powerful contemporary commentary on the age old concepts of sin, transgression and redemption. The film will screen at 4 pm at Cinestar 11.
In ‘The Qandil Mountains,’ Iranian director Taha Karimi sets his first, beautifully filmed, dramatic feature against the violent yet stunning backdrop of the mountains, casting veteran stage and screen actor Ghotbedin Sadeghi with a set of younger actors playing the sons and daughters of the conflict, attempting to draw on the common concerns that link Arabs with Kurds, Turkmen with Persians. The film will screen at 3.15pm at Cinestar 6.
Director Jillali Ferhati
Set against the magnificent backdrop of the Mongolian landscape, Byamba Sakhya's 'Passion' is a fascinating look at Mongolian film history. The film will screen at 3.30pm at Cinestar 5.
In director Jillali Ferhati’s ‘At Dawn,’ Keltoum and her husband, Omar, live in a village in the heart of the Moroccan mountains. They are both actors, but do not have much work and have been dreaming of staging a play for years. The film screens today at 7pm at Cinestar 12, and at Dec. 17, 3pm at Cinestar 5.