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The Fifth Edition of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival Kicks Off with Free Waterfront Screenings
Today marks the first of six free public screenings at the Abu
Dhabi Film Festival's new open-air cinema at the Fairmont Bab Al
Bahr. Tonight's film is Stockholm East, by Simon Kaijser
da Silva, starring internationally acclaimed Scandinavian stars
Mikael Persbrandt (of Academy Award® winner In a Better
World, a hit at last year's ADFF) and Iben Hjejle (High
Fidelity). Waterfront screenings takes place at 7:30
The Festival's outdoor cinema was officially unveiled at
yesterday's Opening Night, a red-carpet event attended by leading
figures of the Arab and Middle Eastern film world. The list of film
talents from the Gulf was led by Huda Al Khatib Janah, Dr. Habib
Ghuloom, Haifa Hussein and Mohammed Al Mansour. Mahmoud Abdel Aziz,
Khaled Abol Naga, Faris Alhilo, Bushra, Sami Kaftan, and Maher
Salibi also walked the red carpet.
In case you missed last night's event, a second screening of the
opening film Monsieur Lazhar, by Philippe Falardeau, takes
place tonight at 6:00 p.m., VOX Cinema 6, Marina Mall.
This evening the Festival also hosts two red-carpet Gala
Screenings at the Abu Dhabi Theater, one of the most
scenic cultural venues with a magnificent view of the city's
skyline. Both screenings will be followed by Q&As with the
filmmakers and actors in attendance.
The first Gala Screening of the night is Chicken With
Plums, which will be attended by actress Maria de Medeiros and
director Marjane Satrapi, as well as JB Dunckel and Nicolas Godin
of the French band Air. Satrapi came to international rominence
through her debut feature Persepolis (2007), an adaption
of one of her graphic novels. Her first live action feature is a
delirious fairy tale about world renowned violinist Nasser Ali Khan
(Mathieu Amalric), a man who is stuck in a loveless marriage and
whose precious instrument has met a violent end. Also starring the
marvelous Golshifteh Farahani. 6:30 p.m., Abu Dhabi Theater.
The second Gala is The Ides of March, directed by George
Clooney and featuring an all-star cast including Clooney, Philip
Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Jeffrey Wright and Ryan Gosling.
The film also stars Evan Rachel Wood, who will be in attendance
tonight. Also walking the red carpet is celebrated Indian actor
Saif Ali 2 Khan, who is set to receive Jaeger-LeCoultre's
Glory to the Actor Award ahead of the screening. The Ides of
March is a tale of double-dealing on the campaign trail, at
once a specific look at American party politics and a universal
consideration of the old adage about power and corruption. 9:00
p.m., Abu Dhabi Theater.
The Festival's first panel discussion, Making Movies in
Abu Dhabi, sees representatives from some of the key
organizations of Abu Dhabi's rapidly expanding film industry
present an overview of their initiatives and explore the
opportunities and challenges facing local filmmakers. Panelists
include: Mohammed Al Otaiba, head of ImageNation Abu Dhabi; David
Shepheard, director of the Abu Dhabi Film Commission; Wayne Borg,
Deputy CEO of twofour54 and Marie-Pierre Macia, director of ADFF's
SANAD film fund. Fairmont Saker Ballroom A, 14:30
The first screening in the Our World Competition
for films devoted to broadening awareness of significant
environmental issues takes place this evening. One of ten films
competing for the $15,000 Our World Award is The City Dark, Ian
Cheney's new film featuring stunning astrophotography, dazzling
animation and a haunting score. Talking with astronomers, cancer
researchers and philosophers, Cheney ponders what humans really
lose to light pollution. The City Dark is shown at 6:00 p.m., VOX
The Narrative Competition kicks off with the
Middle East premiere of Death for Sale, by SANAD grantee Faouzi
Bensaïdi. Set in the seedy Moroccan port city of Tétouan, the film
tells the story of three young men seeking to escape a cycle of
helplessness and poverty by robbing a jewelry store. This incisive
and intricate portrayal of a marginalized city is bolstered by the
raw energy of its young cast. 3:30 p.m., VOX
To mark the 150th anniversary of the great Bengali poet
Rabindranath Tagore, the Festival is pleased to present a
special screening of Charulata, a 1964 masterpiece of Indian cinema
based on Tagore's novella The Broken Nest. Directed by Satyajit
Ray, the first Indian filmmaker to earn worldwide recognition, the
film is set in 1870s India. The intelligent and cultured Charulata
pines away while her work-driven husband devotes more energy to his
newspaper than to their marriage. When he invites his cousin to
keep her company, the results prove heartbreaking for all three.
Screening at 6:30 p.m., VOX1.
Tonight's screening of Between Heaven and Earth, by Salah Abu
Seif, is the first of eight films the Festival is presenting as
part of its retrospective Mahfouz - Man of Cinema,
a tribute to the seminal Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz, the first
Arab to 3 receive a Nobel Prize for Literature. Based on a
screenplay co-written by Mahfouz, the film centers on a group of
people representing the whole of Egyptian society - among them a
movie star, a thief, a madman, a cook and a pregnant woman - who
find themselves trapped in an elevator for 12 hours. The film
screens at 9:00 p.m., VOX 3.
Opening this year's Documentary Feature
Cave of Forgotten Dreams, the visionary director Werner
Herzog's breathtaking first foray into 3-D filmmaking. Granted
access to the site of the oldest known cave paintings in the world,
Herzog exploits 3-D technology to make this astonishing
archaeological find come alive in riveting detail. Cave of
Forgotten Dreams is shown at 4 p.m., VOX 5.
The Documentary selection also includes Tahrir 2011: The
Good, the Bad & the Politician, by Tamer Ezzat, Ayten Amin
and Amr Salama, supported by the Festival's SANAD film fund. One of
the first films to come out of the Egyptian revolution, it focuses
on the events that began on January 25, 2011, when a new generation
of Egyptians turned a one-day demonstration into what became a
full-out revolution aimed at overthrowing the regime's grip on
power. This screening takes place at 6:15 p.m., VOX 8.
Contact thePress Team
Fightville, by celebrated documentary directing team
Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein, is a fascinating, if at times
bloody, look at two young mixed martial arts fighters who just
might have what it takes to become UFC champions. Gorgeous
cinematography and candid interviews make for an inspiring tale of
discipline and focus. The film's international premiere takes place
at 9:00 p.m., VOX 8.
The selection for the New Horizons / Afaq Jadida
Competition for first- and second-time feature filmmakers,
includes Rough Hands, Mohamed Asli's follow-up to his
acclaimed debut In Casablanca,Angels Don't Fly.
Set in Casablanca, the film follows a barber - with an underground
business pushing paperwork through government officials - who
conspires to help a neighbor emigrate to Spain and reunite with her
fiancé. 6:45 p.m., VOX 4.
Alms for a Blind Horse, by Gurvinder Singh is a highly
aesthetic debut film set at the margins of Punjabi society, where
the repressed and exploited have been conveniently cast away.
Revolving around a small-town family who get swept up in a power
struggle when a neighbor's home is demolished, Alms for a Blind
Horse builds an atmosphere of helplessness, simmering
discontent and unfulfilled desire. The film's international
premiere is tonight at 9:30 p.m., VOX 4.
Peter Schildt's A Thousand Times Stronger, part of the
Showcase Program, is a bright coming-of-age story
set at a Swedish high school, where the boys dominate the girls,
the girls submit to the boys, and ironclad cliques form according
to who's hot and who's not. Enter Saga, the globe-trotting,
worldly-wise new girl who turns the whole school on its head. 4:00
p.m., VOX 2.
Sacrifice is a richly designed and wrenchingly emotional
historical drama from Academy Award® -nominated director Chen
Kaige, whose Farewell, My Concubine won the
Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1993. An epic power struggle between feudal
princes counterpoised with the very human tale of one ordinary man,
the films screens at 8:45 p.m., VOX 6.
Today's program also includes a great opportunity to gauge the
pulse of filmmaking in the GCC countries. The tenth edition
of the Emirates Film Competition (EFC) starts with two
programs of short films. EFC 3 Student Short Narratives starts at
3:15 p.m., VOX 4. The second screening, EFC 1 Short Narratives 1,
begins at 7:00 p.m., VOX 2.