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Major International Film Talents to Attend Award Ceremony as ADFF Pays Homage to Legacy of Mahfouz and Bergman

Tonight (October 21), the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF) presents the 2011 Black Pearl Awards for feature-length films. The awards ceremony at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr will be attended by special guests from near and far, including well-known names from Arab and international cinema. Major British film talents Tilda Swinton, Rupert Friend will take to the red carpet alongside stars from the GCC countries including Tareq Al Ali, Zyna Karam and Ahmed Iraj.

The guest list also includes talents of a new generation of the Arab cinema such as Lotfi Abdelli, Suhir Ben Amarer, Fahd Benchemsi, Salah Ben Salah, Mouhcine Malzi and Maher Salibi. They will be joined on the red carpet by established Arab film personalities such as Nidal Al Achkar, Bushra, Faris El Hilo, Sami Kaftan, Maged El Kedwani, Saba Mubarak, Houda Rihani and Hend Sabry.

Tilda Swinton is in Abu Dhabi to receive a Black Pearl Career Excellence Award from the Festival in recognition of her outstanding talent through a diverse body of work. Rupert Friend is attending the Festival to personally introduce his award-winning short comedy Steve, starring Colin Firth and Keira Knightley.

This evening ADFF is also highlighting the legacy of two eminent figures of film history. ADFF's Spotlight on Sweden continues with a screening of Ingmar Bergman's Smiles of a Summer Night. This indelible 1955 comedy follows the romantic entanglements of three 19th-century couples during a weekend retreat at a country estate. Though tinged with a beautiful, pensive melancholy, it is one of the most lighthearted films in the director's oeuvre. It also became the first film to bring Bergman international attention when it won the Grand Prix at Cannes. Smiles of a Summer Night is screened at 6:30 p.m., at VOX 3.

The retrospective Naguib Mahfouz - Man of Cinema features a screening of Midaq Alley, by Jorge Fons. Regularly cited as one of the most popular Mexican films of all time, the film expertly transplants Mahfouz's 1947 novel to contemporary Mexico City. Among the terrific performances in this ensemble narrative is Salma Hayek's portrayal of Alma, a woman left with conflicting desires when her young lover (Bruno Bichir) leaves to work illegally north of the border while promising to return and marry her. Midaq Alley plays tonight at 9:00 p.m., also VOX 3.

The Yellow Sea, by Hong-jin Na, is part of the Festival's Showcase section of recent films from around the world. Hong-jin Na (The Chaser) elevates the action genre to the level of epic tragedy with this beautiful, rich and complex film. Gu-nam is a cab driver who leads a pitiful life near the China-Korea border. His wife crossed over to South Korea to earn money six months ago, but he hasn't heard from her since. One day Gu-nam meets a contract killer who offers to turn his life around and reunite him with his wife - all for a price of one hit. The Yellow Sea is screened at 9:00 p.m., VOX 6.

The Festival's lineups for today also features numerous second screenings of films from the selection, providing the audience with a chance to catch up on films they might have missed over the past couple of days.

Tomorrow (October 22), the Festival presents its last day of screenings and special events. The lineup includes screenings of four of the winning films announced at tonight's Black Pearl Award ceremony as well as the final screenings of the Festival's two special programs: Naguib Mahfouz - Man of Cinema closes with Tawfik Saleh's Fools' Alley, while Spotlight on Sweden finishes with a screening of Ingmar Bergman's Fanny and Alexander. The Festival's last day also features a timeless Laurel & Hardy program presented by the Magic Lantern Film Club for Children, which will delight children between the ages of 6 and 12.

Full details and screening times are available on www.adff.ae.

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