A Boost for Arab Cinema at ADFF 2013
With a record number of Arab films having their World Premiere, a special programme featuring debut films by iconic Arab filmmakers, and Merzak Allouache receiving the Variety Middle East Filmmaker of the Year Award, Arab cinema is at its best at the seventh edition of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival.
In all competitive sections of the Festival, Arab produced films will compete against the best new films from around the world. In addition, audiences can look forward to a Special Programme dedicated to renowned Arab filmmakers which revisits the debut features of nine great directors.
Two World Premieres of Arab produced films feature in the SHOWCASE section of the Festival. ADFF is proud to host the premiere of the long-awaited UAE production Djinn, directed by American Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1974), which was produced by Abu Dhabi-based company ImageNation. For the World Premiere of Peace After Marriage by Ghazi Albuliwi, ADFF is excited to welcome back acclaimed actress Hiam Abbass, who will also receive the Black Pearl Career Achievement Award at the Festival for her outstanding body of work.
The Documentary Feature Competition includes four Arab films, all of them World Premieres: Hanging Dates Under Aleppo’s Citadel directed by Mohammad Soueid from Lebanon, Cairo Drive by Egyptian director Sherief Elkatsha, El Gort (Jamal al-barrouta) directed by Hamza Ouni from Tunisia and Whispers of the Cities (Hams al-mudon) by Iraqi director Kasim Abid.
The New Horizons Competition includes the World Premiere of Villa 69, the debut feature from Egyptian director Ayten Amin, which was supported by SANAD. Iraqi-Kurdish director Hisham Zaman returns to ADFF with Before Snowfall. Like Ayten Amin, Zaman has previously competed in the Short Film Competition at ADFF and won the Black Pearl Award with Bawke in 2007. Other Arab produced films in New Horizons are Giraffada, directed by Palestinian Rani Massalha, which premiered in Toronto this year, along with the noir drama Bastardo by Tunisian director Nejib Belkadhi.
In the Narrative Feature Competition, four out of 15 productions originate in the Middle East, among them Hiner Saleem’s My Sweet Pepper Land, which, after receiving SANAD funding, screened in Un Certain Regard at Cannes earlier this year, and Rags and Tatters by Egyptian Ahmad Abdallah which premiered in Toronto last month. Mohamed Jabarah Al-Daradji, who won the Variety Middle East Filmmaker of the Year Award in 2010, presents his new feature In the Sands of Babylon as a World Premiere in Abu Dhabi.
Also in the Narrative Competition, Algerian Merzak Allouache shows The Rooftops, the only Arab film to screen in international competition this year at the Venice Film Festival. Merzak Allouache is this year’s recipient of the Variety Middle East Filmmaker of the Year Award. He is considered one of Algeria’s most important living directors. In addition to the Middle East Premiere of The Rooftops, the Festival will also screen his debut feature Omar Gatlato (1974) as part of this year’s Special Programme “Debut Films by Arab Filmmakers”. The first films of nine iconic Arab filmmakers will be screened as part of the programme, including Radwan El Kashef’s Date Wine, Le Grand Voyage by Ismael Ferroukhi, Férid Boughedir’s Halfaouine: Boy of the Terraces, West Beirut by Ziad Doueiri and Mufida Tlatli’s The Silences of the Palace.