Dubai, November 25, 2012 – The Arabian Nights programming segment of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) offers the best picks from Arab cinema around the world, and this year's edition looks set to offer a bumper crop of award-winning stories from Arab filmmakers from the Middle East and beyond.
Masoud Amralla Al Ali, DIFF's Artistic Director, commented on this year's programme: “This year's Arabian Nights submissions have raised the bar even further; each film offers a unique perspective and an incredible amount of thought and creativity has been invested into each film. The slate is made up of a diverse group of filmmakers from around the world, each with a story related to the Arab world that evokes many questions. There is a strong demand for true-to-life Arab stories and these directors are certainly helping to bridge the gap.”
In her accomplished debut, writer-director Sally El Hosaini shuffles the deck of working-class, multi-ethnic east London in her sensitively handled coming-of-age film, My Brother the Devil. Shot on location in Hackney during the riots, the film, which won a Best Cinematography accolade at Sundance Film Festival this year and Best British Newcomer for Hosani at BFI London Film Festival will make its Middle East Premiere at DIFF.
The GCC Premiere of Valley of Tears, by Canadian Maryanne Zéhil, will explore the psychological wounds and the conflicting desires of a Palestinian family who survived the unpunished massacre of Palestinian refugees in the camps of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon.
From prolific Belgian director Joachim Lafosse comes Our Children, which earned lead actress Emilie Dequenne a Best Actress Award at Cannes this year. Based on a chilling true story, the film, which will make its Middle East Premiere at DIFF, tells the doomed loved story of a couple who live under the stern gaze and financial aid of family.
Filmed in Dubai and making its World Premiere, Love's Improvisations by Canadian director Youssef El Deeb illuminates the transient, unpredictable world of love and its many faces. Similarly, Shirin by Iraqi Hassan Ali, also making its World Premiere, explores the lengths to which a young couple will go to be reunited, even against social norms.
Beirut born Cynthia Choucair will present the World Premiere of Powerless, which treats the electricity problem of her home country through the very personal investigation of four different characters whose lives were drastically affected by the shortage of electricity. Attack by Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri is a personal but powerful drama focused on an innocent surgeon and his beautiful wife, caught in the turmoil and coercion of the deadly Israeli-Palestinian conflict (GCC Premiere). In another Lebanese selection, Lara Saba's first feature film Blind Intersections tackles social issues in Lebanon through three characters with different social backgrounds, whose lives never intersect, but their destinies do (GCC Premiere).
Written and directed by Berkeley-based filmmaker John Slattery, Casablanca Mon Amour presents two bright and humorous Moroccan college students who explore a Moroccan perspective on the entwined relationship between Hollywood and The Arab World. The film will make its World Premiere at DIFF. Snackbar, the debut feature film by Dutch documentary-maker of Turkish origin, Meral Uslu recounts the days of a group of Moroccan boys in Holland, who gain strength from the pact of brotherhood which unites them (GCC Premiere).
The Middle East Premiere of Bag of Flour by Kadija Leclere supported by The Dubai Film Connection is a moving film about a 10-year-old girl that is torn away from her environment in Belgium by her father, and left in Morocco to fend for herself.
Syrian director Basil Khatib returns to cinema with his latest film, Mariam (World Premiere), after 12 years of absence. The film chronicles 100 years of Syrian history through the stories of three women living in different eras. The film, which was written by Khatib and his brother Talid, will feature a number of Syrian stars including as Sulaf Fawakherji, Sabah al-Jazaeri, and Assad Fidda.
In a spirited coming-of-age tale from first-time feature director Rola Nashef, an ambitious Lebanese-American youth is forced to take over his family's gas station after his father's death in Detroit Unleaded (Middle East Premiere). Finally in the World Premiere of It's About to Rain, Iraqi-Italian director Haider Rashid tackles issues of cultural and legal straddling thrust upon second generation Arab immigrants.
Antonia Carver, Programmer of Arabian Nights commented: “2012 has been an exceptional year for the evolution of Arab film, from the realization of Enjaaz-supported Blind Intersections - Lara Saba's first feature and independent film which tackles social issues in Beirut head-on, to the remarkable filmmaker Ziad Doueiri's Attack which is set in turbulent Tel Aviv. Arab filmmakers are pushing the boundaries of creative expression and are no longer afraid to reveal the worries, expectations and dreams of the Arab world on screen. This programme truly offers a unique and frank insight to traditional Arab life, love and politics.
“Friends of the Festival” packages are now available for the upcoming 9th edition of DIFF. Film enthusiasts can select from any of the six exclusive tiers - DIFF Platinum Partner, DIFF Gold Circle, Patron of DIFF, DIFF Supporter, DIFF Genre and DIFF 10 and 25 ticket deals. In return, patrons will receive insider access to the Festival as an acknowledgement of their support for one of the most anticipated events on the UAE's cultural calendar. For full details on each package and ticket purchases please visit www.dubaifilmfest.com, contact DIFF.Customerservice@filmfest.ae or the call centre 363-3456.
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**Press release issued on behalf of Edelman