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حـــــــــــــــوار مع مارتيــن شيـــن 2013 ديسمرب8 األحد:اليوم 16:00 :الوقت مسرح مدينة جمريا يف سوق مدينة جمريا:املكان التذاكر متوفرة لدى صندوق املهرجان للتذاكر
IN CONVERSATION WITH MARTIN SHEEN Date: Sunday, 8 December 2013 Time: 16:00 Venue: Madinat Theatre at the Souk Madinat Jumeirah Tickets available at the DIFF Box Office.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7 2013
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New Century, CNC to present DFC awards BY LIZ SHACKLETON
Egyptian production company New Century Production and France’s National Cinema Centre (CNC) will each present a new award at this year’s edition of Dubai Film Connection (DFC). The $10,000 New Century Filmmaker Award aims to encourage and promote talented Arab filmmakers and will be presented to a director or scriptwriter with a distinctive project in DFC. “DFC aims to raise the visibility of Arab film-makers and stimulate the growth of film production originating from the Arab world. We’re pleased to welcome New Century Production on board and look forward to working with them at our tenth edition and a successful partnership in the coming years,” said DFC and Film Forum director Jane Williams. New Century is a new production arm of Egypt’s Dollar Film, one of the Arab world’s oldest film companies, which also specialises in film distribution. CNC’s $13,700 award, given to a producer, is intended to further the development of the winning project. “We believe Dubai is a great platform to show our interest in content coming from Arabic-speaking countries,” said CNC head of international co-production Julien Ezanno. Last year’s DFC saw the launch of the $10,000 Front Row/KNCC award, which went to Raed Andoni’s Ghost Hunting. “We enjoyed last year’s selection so much that my partner, Hisham [Alghanim at KNCC], decided to create this award to encourage up-and-coming film-makers,” said Front Row’s Gianluca Chakra. Other awards at the seven-yearold projects market include the Film Clinic/DIFF debut feature award, prizes from Arte and Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and three DIFF awards of $25,000. DFC has also partnered with Cannes’ Producers Network to send five Arab producers to Cannes each year. So far 393 meetings have been booked by 63 companies for this year’s DFC, compared to 370 meetings by 54 companies last year.
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Abdel Aziz moves into Film Clinic’s Two Rooms BY MELANIE GOODFELLOW
Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, the legendary Egyptian actor who was honoured with a lifetime achievement award at last year’s DIFF, will headline an adaptation of Two Rooms And A Parlour, a new high-profile addition to the production slate of Arab talent hothouse Film Clinic. Based on Hugratan Wa Salah, the 2010 novel by Egypt’s Ibrahim Aslan, the project is one of 10 being presented here at Interchange, the development and co-production workshop that unites DIFF with EAVE and Torino FilmLab. Abdel Aziz will play Khalil, a reclusive retiree who is forced to confront his life choices after the death of
his wife. Having never left Cairo, Khalil makes it his mission to see another country before he dies, and in the process begins to interact with neighbours he has spent his life trying to avoid. Scheduled to start shooting in the second half of 2014, Two Rooms And A Parlour will mark the feature-length directorial debut of Sherif El Bendary, a film-maker who has made several successful shorts. Film Clinic president Mohamed Hefzy will produce. “We’re looking forward to launching the career of another very promising Egyptian director in late 2014, as well as gearing up for co-productions with Germany
and the UK based on Egyptian subjects and stories we hope to take successfully to the international market,” said Hefzy. Among the completed Film Clinic productions being readied for release in Egypt are Ayten Amin’s Villa 69 and Amr Salama’s Excuse My French (La Mo’akhza). The company is currently enjoying box-office success with Ahmed Abdallah’s Rags And Tatters. Hefzy has been increasingly involved in international collaborations. He is one of three producers on the pan-Arab project A To B and is teaming up with LA-based Silvatar and Fox International Pictures on Cairo-based genre film Site 146.
Children Of War, page 4
NEWS Seeding the future DIFF launches a new section focusing on Iraq’s next generation of film-makers » Page 4
REVIEW Frozen A dose of old-fashioned Disney animation magic, best served cold » Page 5
FEATURE The YouTube generation How young Arab film-makers are turning to the web to create invigorating content » Page 8
PROFILES New talent Projects from Dubai Film Connection and Interchange » From page 10
SCREENINGS Your guide to today’s films » Page 16
FORUM EVENTS 11:30 - 13:00 The history of MENA cinema Location The Forum Room Presenter Hakim Belabbes, director and film lecturer, School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)
14:00 - 15:00 Writing for film Location The Forum Room Presenter Jacques Akchoti, writer and film-maker
The stars of DIFF’s opening film Omar (from left) Waleed Zuaiter, Eyad Hourani and Adam Bakri with the film’s director, Hany Abu-Assad, on the red carpet last night.
Proaction launches Syrian Film Institute BY MELANIE GOODFELLOW
Producers Orwa Nyrabia and Diana El Jeiroudi of Proaction Film have launched the Syrian Film Institute in Berlin to act as a hub for Syrian film-makers, who are either exiled or still in the country. “The idea is to establish an institute to support Syrian film-makers, wherever they are, with finance and practical support,” said El Jeiroudi. The institute is backed by Dutch social network company Hyves and the Open Society Foundation. The couple — who co-founded
pan-Arab documentary film festival DOX BOX — has been on the move for the past year having fled Damascus in late 2012. El Jeiroudi is at DIFF this year with Sara Ishaq’s The Mulberry House, about the Scottish-Yemeni film-maker’s return to Yemen after many years, which is in the Muhr Arab Documentary competition. Proaction has also recently completed doc Return To Homs and is in post on Syrian director Oussama Mohammad’s Silvered Water, which is a co-production with
Paris-based Les Films d’Ici. Mohammad, who is exiled in Paris, is collaborating with a young female video activist called Silvered Water, who is based in the besieged city of Homs. El Jeiroudi is also working on her first feature-length documentary since 2007’s Dolls: A Woman From Damascus. The film, which has the working title The Perfectionist, follows a Germany-based Syrian geneticist researching the implications of inbreeding in remote Syrian villages.
15:30 - 16:30 Faces from the Arab world Location The Forum Room Three actors from the Arab world discuss how they approach each challenging role. Panelists Adam Bakri (Omar, Palestine), Tewfik Jallab (Ne Quelque Part, Algeria), Fatima Harandi (Rock The Casbah, Morocco)
17:00 - 18:00 Networking session: meet the festival programmers Location The Forum Room Programmers Hiromi Aihara Masubuchi, April Dequito, Zeina Sfeir, Alissa Simon, Christophe Leparc, Nashen Moodley
DIFF has added a new section, Iraqi Legacy: Children Of The Future, which will screen six short films from Iraq’s new generation of film-makers. Most of the films are affiliated to the Iraqi Independent Cinema Centre (IICC), established by Iraqi film-makers Mohamed Al Daradji (Son Of Babylon) and Oday Rasheed (Qarantina). Two of the six Iraqi Legacy shorts are screening in the Muhr Arab Shorts competition: Meedo Ali’s Children Of War, which offers a child’s perspective on war through the drawings of an Iraqi orphan, and Ahmed Yassin’s Children Of God, about a young boy attempting to win the heart of the goalkeeper in a girls’ football team. The other shorts are Mohanad Hayal’s Happy Birthday, Yahya Al Allaq’s War Canister, Luay Fadhil Abbas’s Lipstick, and Nesma’s Birds from Medoo Ali and Najwan Ali, the only film in the programme that features a female film-maker. “The Iraqi Legacy programme honours the spirit of these artists who have persevered despite odds that most of us cannot even begin to imagine,” said DIFF artistic director Masoud Amralla Al Ali. Nandita Dutta
Aflamnah expands with DIFF duo By Melanie Goodfellow
Dubai-based crowdfunding platform Aflamnah has announced it has raised $200,000 across 47 projects since its launch 18 months ago, including two films that are premiering here at DIFF. Established in July 2012 by regional media professionals Vida Rizq and Lotfi Bencheikh, Aflamnah is a fund-raising platform for creative projects in any domain from across the Arab world. The site was recently used to raise finance for Jinan Coulter’s Searching For Saris, which premieres in DIFF’s Muhr Arab Documentary competition on Sunday night, and Amal Al Agroobi’s The Brain That Sings, a contender in the Muhr Emirati competition. Coulter raised $21,330 through
The Brain That Sings
Aflamnah for Searching For Saris when the film was at post-production stage. The feature documentary is about a former Palestinian village on the edge of Jerusalem that was occupied by Israelis in 1948. It was also supported by DIFF’s Enjaaz post-production fund.
“Aflamnah offered me a fantastic opportunity to raise the additional funds I needed for my film,” said Coulter. Local film-maker Al Agroobi raised $15,160 for her second film, The Brain That Sings, during the development and pre-production stage. The film revolves around
two Emirati children with autism. “Aflamnah has become the go-to place for creatives to get their films funded,” said Al-Groobi. Other projects recently supported by Aflamnah include sci-fi short 51, starring Navid Negahban (TV series Homeland) and model Omar Borkan Al Gala, who recently hit the headlines as the man “too handsome for Saudi Arabia”. The film raised $56,380 through Aflamnah. Projects currently looking for finance on the site include upand-coming Jordanian film-maker Bassam Alasad’s On The Edge, capturing life in Amman through the relationship between a businessman and a younger woman. It is Alasad’s first feature following short film Life For Rent.
Collaboration key as global players seek foothold in local markets By Melanie Goodfellow
If you want to go global think local, was one of the key messages to emerge from a panel on bridging the gap between the film industries of the East and West, at the Cinematic Innovation Summit (CIS) yesterday. “Asia is more vital, more dynamic and more important to the global marketplace than ever before,” said veteran US producer David Linde, who chaired the discussion. Recalling Japan’s ill-fated foray into Hollywood in the 1990s,
Iraq’s Children Of The Future makes festival debut
Troy Craig Poon
Linde noted there needs to be a balanced exchange of investment and content for the current trend to flourish. “We need to seek out
opportunities to truly collaborate,” Linde said. Sanjeev Lamba, CEO of India’s Reliance Entertainment, said that US studios attempting to break into India are doing so by producing content for local markets rather than trying to impose international fare. “One of the big trends of the last five years has been that studios such as Fox, Disney, Viacom and sporadically Sony are opening local operations aimed at making local content — it’s a bit of an experiment but I think it’s a trend
that will continue,” Lamba said. Troy Craig Poon of Los Angelesbased Perfect Storm Entertainment, which is focused on the China market, said film professionals seeking to break into the country had to take time to develop content that would truly appeal to local audiences, rather than cynically casting Chinese talent or transferring a story to a Chinese backdrop. “People in China like to watch Hollywood fare but everyone likes to see faces and storylines they can relate to,” said Poon.
One on one Anthony Chen, Ilo Ilo Philippines who is hired by a family in Singapore to take care of their troublesome young son.
Singaporean film-maker Anthony Chen’s debut feature, Ilo Ilo, has won a slew of awards including the Camera d’Or at Cannes and four prizes including best film at Taiwan’s prestigious Golden Horse Awards. It tells the story of a domestic helper from the
How did you get started as a filmmaker? I made quite a few short films starting at the age of 19 in Singapore. I studied film at Singapore’s Ngee Ann Polytechnic and my second short, Grandma, went to Cannes. Then I went to NFTS [UK-based National Film and Television School] for two years. I grew so much there. They don’t tell you how to make films — it’s about grooming and nurturing your voice. What inspired you to make Ilo Ilo? I was advised to go back to
n 4 Screen International at Dubai December 7, 2013
Singapore to make my first feature. I felt it needed to be personal, about subjects or themes that I understood. That’s when all these childhood memories started coming back. It’s not completely autobiographical — there are three boys in my family and only one in the film — but there are lots of moments that were taken from real life. Was the character of the domestic helper, Teresa, taken from real life? Yes, she was, although she left our family more than 16 years ago. After the prize in Cannes, the media in the Philippines tracked her down for me. We had an emotional reunion in Ilo Ilo [a district of the Philippines]
and I flew her to Singapore for the premiere of the film. All the characters in the film are extremely detailed. Is that the part of film-making that interests you most? I’ve always been interested in characters and people. I’m less interested in plot, or at least in finding devices to move the story along. I’m also a film-maker who focuses on emotion. That was something we learnt at NFTS. The teacher said that film can be social, political, artistic or intellectual, but at the heart of all cinema is emotion. Eventually it’s our humanity that connects us with cinema, and of course with each other.
How healthy is the Singapore film industry these days? My sense is that the next five to seven years will be very interesting because many young film-makers are making perceptive and intelligent shorts. If they’re able to make their first features on their own terms — which means being given the right funding and working with the right people — I think there will be a whole new wave for cinema in Singapore. What are you doing next? An English-language project that will be my first international film. I’m based in London but I’d also like to help other new film-makers in Singapore make their first film. Liz Shackleton
Features, from page 7
Reviews edited by Mark Adams email@example.com
Exit Marrakech Reviewed by Dan Fainaru A rambling combination of travelogue, road movie and coming-of-age tale, Caroline Link’s latest visit to Africa will prevail on the merits of its spectacular Moroccan landscapes, which may have been originally intended as a backdrop but end up as the film’s main and most impressive achievement. The tale of a 17-year-old boy who unenthusiastically goes to Marrakech to spend the summer with his estranged father seems to be driven more by a passion for the country than its story. Link’s script starts with a dysfunctional family in the best Western tradition. The father, Heinrich (Tukur), is a stage director while mother Lea (Sellem) is a concert cellist, both careerists at heart. They are, of course, divorced. Their son, Ben (Schneider), lives with his mother and feels he is condemned when he has to visit his father in Marrakech during the summer holidays while all his friends are having a ball on the beach in Nice. Once he is in Morocco, he does everything in his power to irritate dad who, like many foreign artists, prefers to live in luxurious palaces, sip martinis and read Paul Bowles to understand the land and its culture, pretending imagination is more rewarding than reality. To spite him, Ben goes out on the street, meets the people, tries to unveil the real face of the country and falls for young hooker Karima (Herzi). Without telling his father, Ben follows her all the
Frozen Reviewed by Mark Adams There is a tasty dose of old-fashioned Disney animation magic to Frozen, which takes its origins from Hans Christian Andersen’s classic The Snow Queen but leverages in enough action, magic, romance and — most importantly for the young ones — a fun and good-natured snowman who dreams of experiencing summer, to click with a family audience looking for pre-Christmas distractions for the young ones. The film, Disney’s 53rd in-house animated feature, looks terrific and has plenty of relatively innocent fun and adventure. It might lack the knowing humour of a Pixar film or the sly wit and cleverness of recent hits Wreck-It Ralph and the underrated Tangled, but it should hit the mark for undemanding tots. The Snow Queen may well be the basis, but writer-directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee have used the story as a launching point for their own wintry tale, which centres around two sisters, younger Anna (Bell) and elder Elsa (Menzel), who are heirs to the enchanted Scandinavian kingdom of Arendelle. Elsa has ability to magically create a winter wonderland of ice and snow, but when her powers start to prove dangerous she flees to the mountains. Having left summery Arendelle enveloped in snow
Dubai in brief
Arabian nights Ger. 2013. 122mins Director/screenplay Caroline Link Production companies Desert Flower Filmproduktion, Erftall Film & Fernsehproduktion, BA Produktion, MTM West Television & Film, StudioCanal Produktion, ARD Degeto, BR, WDR, ARTE International sales Arri Worldsales, www.arri.de Producer Peter Herrmann Cinematography Bella Halben Editor Patricia Rommel Production designer Susan Bieling Music Niki Reiser Main cast Ulrich Tukur, Samuel Schneider, Hafsia Herzi, Marie-Lou Sellem, Joseph Bierbichler
way to her home in the mountains, where her family pretends they do not know the source of the money she sends them, and demands that at home she respect tradition or leaves. Since much of the film expounds on the abyss separating the Western and Moroccan cultures, Karima’s relationship with her family — as compared to Ben’s relationship with his — adds one more point to the equation. This touristic rather than truly pertinent point of view at times risks ridicule, for instance when an adolescent tourist guide recites the muezzin’s prayer in English for the benefit of his client. But it is all certainly pleasing to the eye, thanks both to Bella Halben’s camera and to Link’s choices of locations, from the luxury hotels in Marrakech through busy markets, remote and mysterious villages perched on mountain slopes to the dunes of the Sahara.
Cinema for children US. 2013. 102mins Directors Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee Production company Walt Disney Animation Studios Distribution Disney Producer Peter Del Vecho Executive producer John Lasseter Screenplay Jennifer Lee, based on a story by Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Shane Morris, inspired by The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen Cinematography Scott Beattie, Mohit Kallianpur Editor Jeff Draheim Production designer David Womersley Music Christophe Beck; songs, Kristen AndersonLopez, Robert Lopez Main cast (voices) Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk, Ciaran Hinds
Dirs: Nana Ekvtimishvili, Simon Gross. Ger-Georgia-Fr. 2013. 102mins. Cinema Of The World It’s about the most dependable genre in art cinema: the autobiographical coming-of-age story with a vividly evoked cultural or political background. But In Bloom (Grzeli Nateli Dgeebi) has enough going for it to stand alone within the tradition as a hugely distinctive piece. A personal essay by writer-director Nana Ekvtimishvili — co-directing with German collaborator Simon Gross (Fata Morgana) — In Bloom is a deeply satisfying exercise with a strong female angle that stands every chance of breaking out from the festival circuit and into modest arthouse exposure. Set in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 1992, soon after the break-up of the USSR, In Bloom is a leisurely, episodic drama that sketches out the lives of two teenage girls — scenes of classroom disruption, school bullies and explosions of discord in the bustling bread queues. Jonathan Romney
CONTACT MEmENTO FILMS international www.memento-films.com
Dir/scr: Anthony Chen. Sing. 2013. 99mins. Muhr Asia Africa Feature A young Filipina becomes the maid for a Singaporean family that needs plenty of help beyond cooking and cleaning in Ilo Ilo, a delicate comedy-drama that contains four nicely realised and empathetic characters. Making his feature directorial debut, Singapore’s Anthony Chen sidesteps mawkishness at every turn to deliver a small gem about how families learn to persevere during the toughest of times. Although the movie is set in Singapore, the issues at play are universal. And Ilo Ilo is quite timely: the movie takes place during the Asian financial crisis of 1997, which has strong contemporary resonance in light of the current global economic downturn. Tim Grierson
CONTACT MEmENTO FILMS international www.memento-films.com
August: Osage County
and ice, Anna gives chase and eventually meets Kristoff (Groff ), a good-looking ice seller who agrees to help her search for Elsa in the hope of bringing sunshine to the land. At the same time snowman Olaf (voiced beautifully by Josh Gad), who has been brought to life by Elsa’s magic, enters the scene and dreams of seeing summer, despite what it might do to him. The coming together of traditional fairytale structure with the antics of the genially naïve snowman feels contrived at times, but the film’s energy and good nature keeps things on track through to a nicely surprising series of twists towards the climax, and in Olaf the film-makers have come up with such a fun character that all is forgiven.
Dir: John Wells. US. 2013. 121mins. Cinema Of The World Acting with a capital ‘A’ dominates August: Osage County, a darkly comic drama that explores the anger, pain and secrets that eat away at an Oklahoman family like the cancer that is afflicting its bitter matriarch. Based on the Pulitzer-winning play by Tracy Letts about a very unhappy family reunion, this ensemble piece (with a cast headed by Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts) is filled with Academy Award winners and nominees who dig into the story’s rich lines and overflowing melodrama, with director John Wells mostly keeping this emotional rollercoaster on the rails. Tim Grierson
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December 7, 2013 Screen International at Dubai 5 n
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Screenings, page 12
Hussain Alriffaei Siege Alriffaei’s feature debut is a drama written by Ameen Saleh about a 13-year-old girl who is alone in her home when sinister events take place outside. She must rely on her wits as society begins to disintegrate. “The violation of one’s innocence is a theme that interests me greatly,” says Alriffaei. The director and writer have worked together previously on two short films. Siege is being produced by Fareed Ramadan and Mohammed Buali from Bahrain’s Nooran Pictures. The group has worked together frequently. In 2012 Buali’s The Sleeping Tree,
Jury head Cate Blanchett at last year’s festival
Top of the class Four emerging film-making talents of the Arab world are in contention for the $100,000 prize from IWC Schaffhausen and Dubai International Film Festival. Louise Tutt reports ate Blanchett returns this year to head the jury of the second annual IWC Filmmakers Award. The prize is jointly presented to a rising star in the Gulf film-making world by Swiss luxury-watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen and Dubai International Film Festival. Four Gulf directors with projects in development have been shortlisted for the $100,000 prize. They are Faiza Ambah’s A Reverence For Spiders, which is also taking part in Dubai Film Connection; Hussain Alriffaei’s Siege, written by Bahrain’s Ameen Saleh; Waleed Al Shehhi’s Dolphins, written by Ahmed Salmeen; and Zeyad Alhusaini’s How I Got There. “This year we received three times as many entries for the award as in 2012, which speaks for the numerous film-makers in the region who are ready to take on a feature project and have already done considerable work in terms of putting together a team and financing,” says DIFF chairman Abdulhamid Juma. “The award recognises their vision and gives them a boost with seed
money that will attract further investment.” The inaugural winner of the prize was Iraqiborn, UK-based Maysoon Pachachi, an acclaimed documentary film-maker who is making her fiction feature debut with Nothing Doing In Baghdad. It is the overlapping stories of a group of people living in the city in the winter of 2006. “We have been rewriting our script, which we feel is becoming stronger with each draft,” says Pachachi of the months since she won the award. “We are now looking to workshop the script with actors and to begin the casting and rehearsal process. We also hope to be shooting a pilot soon and aim to be in production at the end of 2014. “The IWC award, which was our first bit of production funding, really kickstarted things. It gave us a tremendous boost and has been invaluable in raising the profile of the project and interesting people in it, both as co-producers and potential investors.” The 2013 winner will be announced at a s gala dinner on December 7. n
written by Ramadan, was nominated for the IWC Rising Star award. Siege is set to shoot in 2014. Contact
Waleed Al Shehhi
A Reverence For Spiders
With six short films to his name and a reputation as a respected editor and cinematographer, Al Shehhi is making his feature debut with Dolphins. It is written by author and poet Ahmed Salmeen and is the story of Fadel, an ambulance driver who is divorced and has one son, Saud, who lives with his mother, Kawthar. Saud lives in a state of uncertainty due to the separation of his parents, which leads him and his friend Hilal on an unusual adventure with an extraordinary outcome.
Ambah, one of Saudi Arabia’s first female journalists, has written her debut feature script A Reverence For Spiders with support from Sundance Institute, Doha Film Institute, Rawi-Sundance Screenwriters Lab and DIFF. The English-language project is a family drama about a devout Muslim father who moves with his wife and three daughters to New York so his wife can undergo fertility treatments. But his desire for a boy begins to overpower the family, driving a wedge between him and his rebellious eldest daughter and forcing his wife away. He seeks solace in an unlikely friendship with a young Christian teenager. “I want to entertain with a compelling story that also provides a rare glimpse into the life of a conservative Muslim family,” explains Ambah. Saudi Arabia’s SilverGrey Picture & Sound is producing the film, which will be co-directed by Karim Bensalah, who Ambah first met on the Rawi-Sundance Screenwriters Lab. Contact email@example.com
Zeyad Alhusaini How I Got There For his debut feature, experienced Kuwaiti film-maker Alhusaini, who has more than 30 short films to his name, has written an action drama set in the Gulf ’s criminal underbelly. How I Got There follows Salim, a smalltime crook who falls foul of the local mafia. “It is an intimate story about one man’s jour-
ney to self-realisation through an inevitable self-destruction,” Alhusaini says. “The main objective is to create a powerful regional film with international standards, one that portrays a gritty reality, is fast paced with a humorous social commentary and innovative action that offers a unique cinematic experience.” Abdullah Boushahri is producing through his Beyond Dreams outfit. Contact
December 7, 2013 Screen International at Dubai 7 n
(Left) Hisham Fageeh’s No Woman, No Drive video went viral; Kharabeesh YouTube channel specialises in animation, such as Khaffash (pictured)
The YouTube generation Young Arab film-makers and audiences are turning to the web to create and watch relevant, stimulating content — bypassing television altogether. Melanie Goodfellow reports on the exciting online prospects ahead
audi comedian Hisham Fageeh made global headlines in October when his spoof song, No Woman, No Drive, mocking his country’s ban on female driving, went viral on YouTube. It notched up some 9 million views in a matter of days. It is one of the more spectacular examples of how young Saudis are turning to the internet, particularly YouTube, to address social and political issues through humour. There is an explosion of creativity on the web in the MENA region thanks to the voracious appetite among teens and twentysomethings for this new content. It consists mainly of web-soaps, reality shows, animation and offbeat factual series, as well as satirical programming. Traditional television content in the region no longer appeals to this generation. “People are starving for good content, stuff that’s fun,” says 27-year-old Emirati film-maker Amal Al Agroobi, whose The Brain That Sings is premiering at DIFF. “Every year during Ramadan, we get these melodramas, revolving around the family, illness and death. There’s no fresh content. There’s no Game Of Thrones or How I Met Your Mother for the Arab world. The shows on the web are more in tune with younger generations.” Fageeh is connected to Creative Culture Catalyst (3C), the Riyadh-based web production house that runs YouTube channel Telfaz 11. Its top shows include the satirical La Yekthar and Al Temsah, about an alligator puppet that interviews people throughout the region. According to it own data, 3C’s programmes have had in excess of 222 million YouTube views to date. It also has some 2.85 million followers on Twitter and 1.6 million on Google+. Its main Saudi rival is UTurn, which produces the hit web series Taaki. Launched in 2010, UTurn reported some 286 mil-
■ 8 Screen International at Dubai December 7, 2013
‘The shows on the web are more in tune with younger generations’ Amal Al Agroobi, film-maker
(Right) Telfaz 11’s satirical show La Yekthar
lion views on YouTube up until mid-September and has 8 million social-network followers. C3 and UTurn are aimed at Saudi viewers and are among dozens of YouTube channels and shows to have launched in MENA over the last 18 months. Other key players include Jordan-based Kharabeesh, which specialises in animated content, and Qsoft, the Cairo-based outfit behind the internet phenomenon B+ Show and YouTube star Bassem Youssef, whose channel gets some 30 million view a week. In the UAE, Peeta Planet, an offbeat social media-based travel programme created and fronted by brothers Mohamed and Peyman Parham Al Awadhi is steadily building audiences. The show launched on the web before airing on local channel Dubai One. All the episodes are also loaded onto the Peeta Planet YouTube site (see sidebar). “We work with a mix of content providers, from web creatives to broadcasters,” says Diana Baddar, YouTube’s video partnerships manager in the MENA region. “We have seen an explosion in creators making short-form content and launching channels. The key demographic is 15 to 30; there aren’t thousands but it’s growing and emerging.” Baddar points out how the channels are forging recognisable brands and creating their own stars. “What’s amazing is that they did it by themselves, bypass-
ing traditional broadcasters,” she says. “It was a conscious decision to go straight to the net. They see digital as the future.” The launch earlier this year of the YouTube Partnership Programme has further boosted figures. It enables users to make money on their channels through embedded advertising, initially in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE followed by Morocco and the GCC states of Qatar, Bharain, Kuwait and Oman. “Google is on fire in the Middle East and Africa,” suggests Maha Abouelenein, Google’s head of communication in MENA. The digital giant is partnering with DIFF to cover the nightly red-carpet ceremonies with a live show available exclusively on YouTube. Last year’s shows were accessed by viewers from across the region, including in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Jordan. Google’s head of marketing for MENA, Tarek Abdalla, is keen to point out the company’s support of DIFF is part of a corporate strategy that goes beyond mere public relations. It wants to be in at the vanguard of a new cultural moment. “We see YouTube as an emerging space for entrepreneurs, artists, creators and film in general,” he says. “The heyday of film in the Middle East, like that of Egypt in the 1950s and ’60s, is gone but we think we can be part of a new film renaissance in the region. We want to be part of that rebirth.”
ONLINE CHANNELS FEATURE
Al Temsah and (below) football show BooqTV
SPOTLIGHT ON PEETA PLANET Popular travel show Peeta Planet is an example of a home-cooked UAE show that has its origins on the web. The series is the brainchild of brothers Mohamed and Peyman Parham Al Awadhi, who cohost the programme. Together they travel the world, dressed in traditional Emirati dress, and attempt everything from scaling tall buildings in Australia to eating sushi in Japan. The pair hit on the idea when they started trawling the social networks for suggestions ahead of a holiday to Sri Lanka. “The show is unique because everything we do is suggested by our connections on social media,” explains Mohamed Parham Al Awadhi, the older of the two. “It’s a very participatory process.” The brothers produce the show through their
co-owned Abu Dhabi production company Qabeela New Media. They initially developed the show with the help of Abu Dhabi media campus twofour54. According to Qabeela data, the show’s fanbase is 600,000 strong on Google+. It also has around 10,000 Facebook ‘friends’, 3,400 Twitter followers and 8,200 Instagram connections. The shows are first aired on local broadcaster Dubai One, where it was the third most popular show in its debut season. All the episodes are then posted on Peeta Planet’s YouTube site, where it has garnered another 93,000 views to date. A second series is in production. Mohamed Parham Al Awadhi says he and his brother would eventually like Qabeela to branch out into other subject areas such as film and entertainment.
Abdalla explains how Google can help: “There is a multitude of ways film-makers can use our products,” he says. “You might not be able to show a whole movie but you can generate interest with clips and trailers.” Beyond simply being there as a platform, YouTube is also working to foster creativity. The videosharing site is planning a series of workshops in Egypt and Saudi Arabia in spring 2014, connecting some of the more successful channels with up-andcoming content-makers. “We want creatives to understand the value of being on YouTube,” says Baddar. “Our goal is to increase the amount of Arabic content on the internet.” Qsoft is already fostering a new generation of YouTube talent through its ongoing Tube Star Network programme. The production company trawls the web for promising talent, funds a pilot and then gauges its potential via the number of views on a dedicated website. “We are a discovery platform, scouting for talent via YouTube,” says Tube Star Network digital chief and COO Yasser Ghazi. Potential series being developed via the site include the satirical football show BooqTV, which has already clocked up more than 1 million views. The challenge for YouTube, Google and other internet companies is to convince more traditional film-makers to use their services.
“DIFF put the trailer for my previous film Half Emirati up on YouTube, where it got 6,000 hits,” says Al Agroobi. “But I wouldn’t put my entire film up on the web for free.” Instead she is experimenting with video-sharing site Vimeo where Half Emirati is available to watch for $1.99. By mid-November, there had been some 80 downloads. “I don’t think I’ll make money on this,” Al Agroobi explains. “It costs $200 to put the film up and Vimeo takes a 10% cut on proceeds, which isn’t unreasonable. I’ll be lucky if I break even. I see it more as an awareness-building operation than a money-making one.” Further Arab-language films on Vimeo right now include Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s Oscarnominated documentary 5 Broken Cameras and Fadi Haddad’s romantic comedy When Monaliza Smiled. But Al Agroobi notes it is not easy to watch Arab-language films as they are difficult to track down on the web. “I watched When Monaliza Smiled but only because I follow Annemarie Jacir on Twitter and she put out a Tweet,” says Al Agroobi, referring to the high-profile Palestinian film-maker. “There’s no curated site bringing it all together. Unless you happen to be in the know, you won’t necessarily s stumble across the Arab films that are available.” ■
When Monaliza Smiled
December 7, 2013 Screen International at Dubai 9 ■
DUBAI FILM CONNECTION The fifth annual Dubai Film Connection is spotlighting 16 dynamic new projects being developed by directors from throughout the Arab world. Melanie Goodfellow and Louise Tutt talk to the film-makers to discover the stories behind the pitches
Rabih El Amine
Trees Also Die
Dir Uda Benyamina
Dir Rabih El Amine
Dir Damien Ounouri
Film-maker and actress Uda Benyamina won the Muhr Arab short film prize and Fipresci prize at DIFF in 2011 for The Road To Paradise, a drama about a refugee trying to survive in France with her two children. Benyamina returns to Dubai with Bastard, her first feature-length fiction project, which similarly revolves around France’s immigrant community. “Bastard talks about the de-localised Mediterranean region. These children from Africa have recreated a country within a country,” says Benyamina, who is based in France and of Moroccan origin. Set against the backdrop of a tough housing estate on the outskirts of Paris, the film follows Dounia, a fatherless teenager — nicknamed ‘the bastard’ by people on her block — with an alcoholic mother. In search of affirmation, the livewire Dounia starts working for a local drug-dealer with potentially disastrous consequences. “Bastard tells the story of a teenager whose radiance is dimmed by a world without light,” explains Benyamina. “A girl who seeks power and recognition but who will learn, perhaps too late, to love and be loved. The idea for the film came to me after I saw a documentary where teenage girls were taken into police custody. They were full of life, excited to be in a cell. I saw myself in these teenagers.” Marc-Benoit Creancier of Paris-based Easy Tiger is lead producing the film. He set up the company in 2010 alongside Jessica Rosselet. The company has worked mainly on short films to date. Bastard marks one of its first feature-length productions alongside Cristina Pinheiro’s Menina and Florent Sauze’s Tomorrow.
Trees Also Die is the debut feature from the Lebanese-born, Montreal-based photographer, screenwriter and director Rabih El Amine. He plans to use a non-linear narrative to explore the impact of war and enforced exile on a boy and his mother who flee through the southern Lebanese night with the dead body of his father in the trunk of their car. El Amine, who has made several shorts including award-winning documentary Ahmad The Japanese, is interested in the consequences of memory, nostalgia and loneliness on displaced people as they attempt to rebuild their lives and identities. “The film will draw a portrait of a migrated, hereditary, melancholic memory… I am from a Lebanese family that like many others has suffered the impacts of a sudden and terrible war,” El Amine says of his connection to the subject matter. The script has undergone a rigorous development process, taking part in Rawi-Sundance Screenwriters Lab, Tunisia-based Ateliers Sud Ecriture and the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture’s (AFAC) scriptwriting workshop. The project has also participated in the Jordan-based Med Film Factory. Trees Also Die is produced by Ziad Touma of Canada’s Couzin Film. Touma, also of Lebanese descent, produced Jean-Sébastien Lord’s The Guardian Angel. Trees Also Die is co-produced by Nadim Cheikhrouha from France’s Screen Runner. The company produced Florent de la Tullaye and Renaud Barret’s Benda Bilili!, which opened Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 2010, and feature doc Would You Have Sex With An Arab?, which screened in Venice film festival’s Orizzonti in 2012.
French-Algerian film-maker Damien Ounouri is joining forces with actress and producer Adila Bendimerad for his debut feature fiction, Chedda. It will be the story of a woman who rebels against Algeria’s repressive society. Bendimerad, who picked up awards for her performance in Algerian director Merzak Allouache’s The Repentant, will star in the film and produce via her Algiers-based company Taj Intaj. She set up the company in 2011 with Djaber Debzi to foster new Algerian talent. Ounouri is best known internationally for his 2012 documentary Fidaï, exploring the Algerian revolution through the story of a great uncle who fought and was imprisoned by the French during the struggle. Ounouri says he felt it was time to deal with a contemporary topic and decided to focus his attention on Algeria, specifically the treatment of women in modern-day Algerian society. The story follows Lamia, to be played by Bendimerad, a normally dutiful daughter-in-law living in a traditional multi-generational family house alongside her in-laws. On the day of an elaborate family celebration to mark the return of the family patriarch from Mecca, Lamia starts ripping off her clothes, screaming and shouting, and locks herself away for many days. Nobody can understand this strange behaviour — not least Lamia. The film’s title, Chedda, refers to a traditional Algerian ceremonial costume encrusted with jewels and pearls, which Lamia wears as part of the festivities.
Trees Also Die
Producer Marc-Benoit Creancier Production company Easy Tiger Budget $3.4m Contact Marc-Benoit Creancier
Prods Ziad Touma, Nadim Cheikhrouha Prod cos Couzin Films, Screen Runner Budget $1.5m Finance to date $300,000 development grants (AFAC, Sodec) Contact Ziad Touma firstname.lastname@example.org
Producers Djaber Debzi, Adila Bendimerad Production company Taj Intaj Budget $1.16m Contact Djaber Debzi email@example.com
■ 10 Screen International at Dubai December 7, 2013
INTERCHANGE The fourth annual Interchange development programme brings together Arab and European film-makers to support directing, writing and producer teams working on feature projects. The initiative is a collaboration between Italy’s TorinoFilmLab, EAVE and DIFF, and is supported by the European Union’s MEDIA International scheme. At DIFF, each film-making team will receive training tailored to their needs. Furthermore, Arab trainee script consultants Antoine Waked (Lebanon), Rowan Al Faqih (Palestine) and Nagham Abboud (Lebanon) will work as story editors on the 10 projects. Profiles by Melanie Goodfellow and Louise Tutt
Mohamed and Ahmed Abu Nasser
Dir Sophie Boutros
Dirs Mohamed and Ahmed Abu Nasser
Dir-scr Musa Syeed
Project’s country of origin Lebanon, Jordan
Project’s country of origin Palestine
Project’s country of origin Yemen-US
Jordanian producer Nadia Eliewat and Lebanese director Sophie Boutros have co-written a comedy drama about Lebanese woman Therese, who has harboured feelings of hatred towards Syrians since her brother was killed during the Lebanon-Syria war. She must re-evaluate everything in which she believes when her daughter is engaged to a Syrian man. “Although our film explores the complicated love-hate Syrian-Lebanese relationship through our main character Therese, the essence of the story is the mother-daughter relationship,” Boutros explains. “The genre of the film is comedy, because we believe this conflict needs to be addressed in a light-hearted way.” Sophie Boutros, who is the sister of renowned Arab musicians Julia and Ziad Boutros, has worked in television production and has directed music videos. She now works at Mohammed Bin Rashid School for Communication at the American University in Dubai. Bound will be the first feature produced through Eliewat’s Screen Project company, which focuses on commercially oriented theatrical projects. Eliewat has produced and directed short films and produced her first feature When Monaliza Smiled, which screened at Dubai last year. It has been released theatrically in Jordan and Morocco. Eliewat is confident Bound will have a wide appeal. “The comic approach will help the movie reach a wider audience,” she says. “Also the mother-daughter relationship is universal and can touch a worldwide audience.” Dubai’s In House Film is attached as a co-producer.
Gaza-based film-makers and twin brothers Ahmed and Mohamed Abu Nasser (aka Tarzan and Arab), who made waves at Cannes Film Festival this year with the short film Condom Lead about a married couple trying to make love during the 2009 Israeli offensive, are in Dubai with their first feature project, Casting. Like Condom Lead, their new project promises a wry, offbeat take on day-to-day life in the Gaza Strip. It follows director Khalil as he tries to write a script and pull together a film production in the face of local bureaucracy, rising religious extremism and the everyday inconveniences and dangers of life in Gaza amid the conflict with Israel. “The film takes inspiration from the funny and absurd situations the brothers found themselves in when they first started trying to make a film in Gaza before moving to Amman to study,” says producer Rashid Abdelhamid, who is developing the project with the twins through the Palestinian arts initiative Made In Palestine Project, which was founded by the trio. Former EuropaCorp TV executives Thomas Anargyros and Edouard de Vesinne’s Incognita Films is co-producing the project. Incognita’s credits include Jean-Pierre Améris’ Victor Hugo adaptation The Man Who Laughs and Eric Guirado’s alpine thriller Greed. The production recently secured a $9,400 development grant, supported by France’s CNC, during the Cinemed International Mediterranean Film Festival of Montpellier in October. The project is set to shoot in Jordan.
This Yemen-set drama will be the much-anticipated feature follow-up to director Musa Syeed and producer Nicholas Bruckman’s award-winning debut Valley Of Saints. The Kashmir-set love story won the prestigious World Cinema audience award at Sundance in 2012 and the jury prizes at the Dubai, Milan and Mumbai festivals. Now in development, The Cycle is a universal story of teenage rebellion and the battles between the old and the young. Ahmad, an outcast in his village in the Yemen since his father was executed for murder, wants to make a new life in the city. But his attempts to leave his tribe are thwarted by both the village leader Omar and members of a neighbouring tribe. Growing up in a Kashmiri Muslim family in the US has given Syeed first-hand experiences of the pressure felt by young people who are caught between the world of their parents and the culture of the new country in which they are growing up. “I didn’t want to surrender my heritage but I also didn’t want to blindly accept it,” Syeed says. “Nowhere in this globalised world have I felt this struggle more resonant, these forces of past and present more dramatically different, than in Yemen. After marrying into a Yemeni family and travelling the country, I could easily see how Yemeni youth and I shared similar hopes and challenges.” The Cycle is being co-produced by Yemeni-UK filmmaker Sara Ishaq, who set up Setara Films in Yemen after returning to document the uprising for the BBC in 2011. Her credits include doc short Karama Has No Walls, which was nominated for a Bafta New Talent award, and feature doc The Mulberry House, which is screening at DIFF.
Producer Nadia Eliewat Production companies Screen Project, In House Film Budget $500,000 Contact Nadia Eliewat firstname.lastname@example.org
Producer Rashid Abdelhamid Production company Made In Palestine Project Budget $619,000 Contact Rashid Abdelhamid rashid.abdelhamid@
Producers Sara Ishaq, Nicholas Bruckman Production companies Setara Films, People’s TV Budget $400,000 Contact Sara Ishaq email@example.com
December 7, 2013 Screen International at Dubai 11 ■
» Screening times and venues are correct at the time of going press but subject to alteration
Edited by Paul Lindsell firstname.lastname@example.org
Social. Dir: Rizgar Husen. Cast: Deljan Bahjet. Syrian refugee Nasrin fled to Iraq after the Syrian war. There she begins work as a housemaid, taking Frahad’s position. Angry that he lost his job to her, Frahad sets out on a mission to stir up trouble.
10:00 FACTORY GIRL PRESS SCREENING
(Egypt, UAE) 92mins. Drama, romance, social. Dir: Mohamed Khan. Cast: Yasmine Raees, Hani Adel, Salwa Khatab, Salwa Mohammad Ali, Ibtihal Elserety. Young factory worker Hiyam is under the spell of her supervisor Salah. She believes love can transcend the class differences between them. However, when a pregnancy test is discovered in the factory, her family and friends accuse her of sinning.
Gulf Voices MOE 6
THIS IS MY NIGHT
(UAE) 11mins. Drama. Dir: Alaa Shaker. Cast: Azal Idrees, Maha Maha, Labiba Laith. Dreams are destroyed during a war. Young Laila stands up against society and Essam, who is driven by lust and false beliefs.
Muhr Arab Feature MOE 8
14:00 DURBAN POISON
(South Africa) 94mins. Crime, film noir, romance. Dir: Andrew Worsdale. Cast: Cara Roberts, Brandon Auret, Danny Keogh, Marcel Van Heerden, Gys De Villiers. Explores the love affair between South Africa’s version of Bonnie and Clyde — Joline and Piet — and how their passionate affair soon became something destructive, turning them into killers. Muhr Asia Africa Feature MOE 1
Gulf Voices MOE 6
Festival 15:00 HOMELAND
(France, Morocco) 90mins. Drama. Dir: Mohamed Hamidi. Cast: Jamel Debbouze, Tewfik Jallab, Malik Bentalha, Abdelkader Secteur, Fatsah Bouyahmed. Farid, a 26-year-old law student, has lived in France his entire life. When his father falls ill and sends him to Algeria
to save the family home from demolition, Farid discovers a country he neither understands nor cares for. After a night of partying, his passport disappears mysteriously and as he struggles with a suspicious and unhelpful Algerian bureaucracy, the young Frenchman begins to learn about his family’s past and his roots Arabian Nights MOE 12
(US) 109mins. Action, adventure, animation. Dir: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee. Cast: Kristen Bell, Alan Tudyk, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Ciaran Hinds. Fearless optimist Anna sets off on an epic journey — teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven — to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Cinema for Children Madinat Arena
(Philippines) 102mins. Comedy, drama. Dir: Leo Abaya. Cast: Eugene Domingo, Yuki Matsusaki, Shamaine
Buencamino, Luis Alandy, Rico J Puno. Bechayda is in a longdistance relationship with Kaoru, a Japanese man. Pregnant and in love, the future looks bright for Bechayda. But tragedy strikes and in a bid to give her family a better life, she devises an absurd plan. Cinema of Asia Africa MOE 2
14:15 BIRDS OF SEPTEMBER
(Lebanon, Qatar) 99mins. Documentary. Dir: Sarah Francis. A glass van roams the streets of Beirut. It houses a camera that explores the city from behind the glass. Through its journey, it becomes a mobile confessional.
n 12 Screen International at Dubai December 7, 2013
Muhr Arab Documentary MOE 11
THE HORSES OF FUKUSHIMA
(Japan) 74mins. Documentary. Dir: Yoju Matsubayashi. No-one could have imagined the fate awaiting the horses of Fukushima. They almost died in the tsunami and were exposed to radiation inside the 20km zone of the nuclear meltdown. They were left for weeks without fodder and shut away in stables for months. They are kept alive only because of the role they play in the grand annual horse festival. Muhr Asia Africa Documentary MOE 10
(UAE) 15mins. Documentary. Dir: Nasser Al Yaqobi. They came to look for work, leaving their country behind, and found themselves in a nation that has become closer than their homeland. Muhr Emirati MOE 9
(UAE) 64mins. Dir: Mansoor Alyabhouni Al Dhaheri. Cast: Abbas Saleh, Jihan Beyrouti, Mohammed Barhoum, Yasmin Khouri. Presents testimonials from residents who express their love for the UAE. Muhr Emirati MOE 9
15:00 HOMELAND See box, above
(Georgia, Germany, France) 102mins. Drama. Dir: Simon Gross, Nana Ekvtimishvili. Cast: Mariam Bokeria, Lika Babluani, Zurab Gogaladze, Data Zakareishvili, Ana Nijaradze. Georgia is embroiled in a war on the Black Sea
coast and violence pervades its society. But for two inseparable 14-year-old friends, Eka and Natia, life continues as normal. Cinema of the World MOE 5
15:30 THE FERRY
(Egypt) 98mins. Drama, romance, social. Dir: Attia Amin. Cast: Mohamed Aly, Dorra Zarrouk, Hani Adel, Mai Salim, Ahmed Safwat. A true story about those who are less fortunate in their long search for peace in life. Arabian Nights Souk Madinat Theatre
15:45 BAGHDAD NIGHT
(Iraq, UAE) 15mins. Family, fantasy, film noir, horror, mystery. Dir: Furat Al Jamil. A taxi driver picks up a mysterious woman on a street corner, who asks him to drive her to one of Baghdad’s oldest graveyards. She gives him a small golden bell as the fare and warns him not to follow her into the graveyard. Gulf Voices MOE 6
THE DAY IS GONE
(Iraq, UAE) 27mins.
17:00 ILO ILO
(Singapore) 99mins. Drama. Dir: Anthony Chen. Cast: Angeli Bayani, Koh Jia Ler, Chen Tian Wen, Yeo Yann Yann. Set in Singapore, Ilo Ilo charts the relationship between a family of three and their new Filipina maid, Teresa. Muhr Asia Africa Feature MOE 1
(South Korea) 93mins. Documentary. Dir: Kim Mi-re. Cast: Lee HaeGwan, Son Il-Gon, Jang Gyo-Soon, Seo Gi-Bong. Chronicles the daily lives of a group of middle-aged workers at Korea Telecom. Muhr Asia Africa Documentary MOE 10
(India) 134mins. Drama, Social. Dir: Madhureeta Anand. Cast: Meenu Hooda, Ridhima Sud, Kuldeep Ruhil, Shashi Bhushan, Sudheer Chobeesy. Kajarya lives in a small village in Haryana. She carries out the repugnant task of murdering unwanted female infants, under the pretext of religious beliefs.
Further DIFF coverage, see screendaily.com
Meanwhile, in New Delhi, Meera, a rookie reporter, lives the modern urban dream until her world collides with Kajarya’s. Celebration of Indian Cinema MOE 2
17:30 THE BEEKEEPER
(Switzerland) 107mins. Docudrama. Dir: Mano Khalil. Cast: Ibrahim Gezer, Max Wyrsch, Anita Wyrsch-Gwerder, Barbara Bienz, Nicole Hohl, Viktor Krummenacher. The touching story of a beekeeper who lost everything in the TurkKurd war. Arabian Nights MOE 5
(Algeria, France) 81mins. Drama. Dir: Narimane Mari Benamer. Cast: Rehab Bakir, Yacine Bennour, Nedjmeddine Benarafa, Bilal Azil, Ghania Aissani. Recounts the end of the French colonisation of Algeria through the eyes of the children. Muhr Arab Documentary MOE 11
18:00 THE BRAIN THAT SINGS
(UAE) 61mins. Dir: Amal Al Agroobi. Cast: Mohammed Al Tamimi, Fauzia Mohammed, Sanaa Al Tamimi, Saleh Al Tamimi, Marion Tennant, Khalifa Al Ali. The journey of two autistic boys in the UAE — 19-yearold Mohammed and sixyear-old Khalifa — and their progress over three months of music therapy. Muhr Emirati MOE 9
(Finland) 20mins. Comedy, drama. Dir: Naima Mohamud. Cast: Eija Ahvo, Joanna Haartti, Yusufi Gazmend, Ilona Valve, Yasmin Heinonen. Nine-year-old Fatima overhears her parents talking about divorce. Milla, her best friend, comes up with a plan to make Fatima’s parents fall in love again.
(France) 18mins. Comedy. Dir: Ibtissem Guerda. Cast: Barish Begbaga, Sabrina Dina, Karim Leklou.
Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dermot Mulroney. A family crisis brings the strong-willed women of the Weston family back to the Oklahoma house in which they grew up.
Cinema for Children MOE 12
Cinema of the World Madinat Arena
Cinema for Children MOE 12
FOR YOUR OWN GOOD
(Jordan) 22mins. Documentary. Dir: Mohammad Rahahleh. Cast: Samar Musa, Ekhlas Musa, Musa Salman, Jaber Musa.
20:00 CHAMP OF THE CAMP
Cinema for Children MOE 12
(UAE, Lebanon, Qatar) 75mins. Music, social, documentary. Dir: Mahmoud Kaabour. Follows a Bollywood singing and trivia competition in Dubai.
Arabian Nights Burj Park
(Tunisia, France) 23mins. Comedy, family, fiction. Dir: Kaouther Ben Hania. Cast: Yasmine Ben Amara, Shiraz Fradi, Ahmed El Haffiene, Fethi Heddaoui, Zied Kochbati, Rafed Cheyada. Cinema for Children MOE 12
(France) 82mins. Drama. Dir: Thierry De Peretti. Cast: Joseph Ebrard, Hamza Mezziani, Francois-Joseph Cullioli, Aziz El Hadachi, Maryne Cayon, Danielle Arbid. Revolves around five teenagers from Porto Vecchio, who sneak into an unoccupied luxury villa. Arabian Nights MOE 6
18:30 PILLOW SECRETS
(Morocco, Qatar) 87mins. Drama. Dir: Jillali Ferhati. Cast: Fatima Harandi, Majdouline Alidrissi, Rhita Belkhadir, Fatima Zahra Banacer. When she recognises the body of her mother, a young woman is drawn back violently to her past. Muhr Arab Feature Souk Madinat Theatre
19:00 AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY
(US) 119mins. Comedy, drama. Dir: John Wells. Cast: Juliette Lewis, Ewan McGregor, Meryl Streep,
FISH & CAT
(Iran) 134mins. Crime, psychodrama. Dir: Shahram Mokri. Cast: Babak Karimi, Abed Abest, Saied Ebrahimifar, Ainaz Azarhoush, Mona Ahmadi, Neda Jebraieli. A sinister, one-shot tale of creepy restaurateurs Babak and Saeed. Muhr Asia Africa Feature MOE 1
WUKAN: THE FLAME OF DEMOCRACY
(Singapore) 97mins. Documentary. Dir: Lynn Lee, James Leong. The challenges faced by a rural Chinese community under a new political system. Muhr Asia Africa Documentary MOE 10
20:15 GUARDIANS OF TIME LOST
(Lebanon, UAE) 109mins. Dir: Diala Kachmar. Between commitment and chaos, between courage and fear, between ideology and deviation and between chivalry and violence lies the street. They are a group of marginalised young men, known as the thugs of Al Lija and they reflect the chaos that characterises their neighbourhood in Beirut. Muhr Arab Documentary MOE 11
20:45 A DREAM
(Qatar) 16mins. Drama. Dir: Faisal Al Duwaisan. Cast: Wiam Abd, Hassan Al Sager, Ahed Hassan, Rabih Rabah. Amer has a recurring dream that his wife is with a strange man. As Amer struggles to understand the dream, his wife’s suspicious behaviour adds to his paranoia. Gulf Voices MOE 9
(UAE, France) 21mins. Family. Dir: Muzna Almusafer. Cast: Humodi Chanbe, Mwinyi Hassan. The dark-skinned 11-yearold Cholo meets his fairskinned brother Abdullah for the first time, when their father Said arrives in Muscat from Zanzibar. Gulf Voices MOE 9
(Germany) 122mins. Drama. Dir: Caroline Link. Cast: Ulrich Tukur, Samuel Schneider, Hafsia Herzi, Marie-Lou Sellem, Josef Bierbichler. Determined to experience Morocco to the fullest and with his relationship with his father taking a turn for the worse, Ben sets off into the underbelly of Marrakech and beyond. Arabian Nights MOE 5
EYE & MERMAID
(Qatar) 15mins. Drama, fantasy. Dir: Shahad Ameen. Cast: Basima Hajjar, Nadine Fadayel, Sarah Al Dorani, Rashid Al Sheeb. Ten-year-old Hanan sneaks into her fisherman father’s shack to find he has captured a mermaid. Gulf Voices MOE 9
(UAE, Qatar) 11mins. Drama, horror. Dir: Nayla Al Khaja. Cast: Fatema Al Shroqi, Katerina Bernado, Bader Lamy, Aya Al Ansari. Khalid is an average nine-
year-old boy, who enjoys role-playing games with his younger sister, Reem. However, as his birthday approaches, Khalid becomes increasingly hostile and aggressive. Gulf Voices MOE 9
(Canada) 104mins. Drama, romantic comedy. Dir: Louise Archambault. Cast: Gabrielle MarionRivard, Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin, Alexandre Landry. The musically gifted but developmentally challenged Gabrielle lives in a group home. When she falls in love with a similarly challenged man, their relatives and social workers are concerned whether the couple can handle the relationship. Then Gabrielle’s beloved sister reveals she is moving to India. Cinema of the World MOE 6
(Italy) 93mins. Comedy. Dir: Paolo Zucca. Cast: Stefano Accorsi, Geppi Cucciari, Jacopo Cullin, Alessio Di Clemente, Marco Messeri. Cinema of the World MOE 2
21:15 THE MICE ROOM
(Egypt, UAE) 85mins. Drama. Dir: Nermeen Salem, Mohamed Zedan, Mohamad El-Hadidi, Mayye Zayed, Hend Bakr, Ahmed Magdy Morsy. Cast: Mostafa Darwish, Zeyad Salem, Nihad Yahia, Noura Saafan, Hanan Youssef. Muhr Arab Feature MOE 12
21:30 MAY IN THE SUMMER
(US, Qatar, Jordan) 100mins. Comedy, drama. Dir: Cherien Dabis. Cast: Bill Pullman, Hiam Abbass, Nadine Malouf, Alia Shawkat, Cherien Dabis. Muhr Arab Feature Souk Madinat Theatre
DIFF editorial office Press and publicity office, Madinat Jumeirah Conference Centre +971 56 212 6011 DIFF dailies editor and Asia editor Liz Shackleton email@example.com Group head of production and art Mark Mowbray mark.mowbray@ screendaily.com Reporter Nandita Dutta firstname.lastname@example.org Reporter Melanie Goodfellow melanie. email@example.com Reviews editor Mark Adams +44 7834 902 528 mark.adams@ screendaily.com DIFF Young Journalist Award Colin Brown +971 55 608 1303 colinbrown1@ earthlink.net Features editor Louise Tutt Sub-editors Sangeeta Chauhan, Paul Lindsell, Adam Richmond, Danny Plunkett Designers Vernon Adams, Gina Taylor Advertising Scott Benfold scott.benfold@ screendaily.com Printer Masar Printing & Publishing, International Media Production Zone, Dubai www.masarprint. com Screen International UK office MBI, 101 Finsbury Pavement, London EC2A 1RS, United Kingdom Subscriptions +44 1604 828 706 help@ subscribe.screendaily.com
in association with Chime Consulting
December 7, 2013 Screen International at Dubai 13 n
Doha Film Institute congratulates the Middle East North African filmmakers at the 10th Dubai International Film Festival â€˜May in the Summerâ€™ by Cherien Dabis, Co-financed by the Doha Film Institute
We are proud to support the ten feature films and five shorts financed by the Doha Film Institute screening in DIFFâ€™s 10th edition. To learn more, visit stand number 27 at the Dubai Film Market. Short Films
A Dream Directed by Faisal Al Duwaisan Qatar Doha Film Institute Hazawi Project Screening: Gulf Voices Saturday, 7 December, 8:45 PM Monday, 9 December, 6:30 PM
Birds Of September Directed by Sarah Francis Lebanon / Qatar DFI Grant Recipient Screening: Muhr Arab Documentary Saturday, 7 December, 2:15 PM Monday, 9 December, 3:00 PM
Challat of Tunis Directed by Kaother Ben Hania Tunisia / Qatar DFI Grant Recipient Screening: Muhr Arab Feature Wednesday, 11 December, 6:00 PM Thursday, 12 December, 7:00 PM
Eye And Mermaid Directed by Shahad Ameen Qatar Doha Film Institute Hazawi Project Screening: Gulf Voices Saturday, 7 December, 8:45 PM Monday, 9 December, 6:30 PM
Champ Of The Camp Directed by Mahmoud Kaabour, United Arab Emirates / Lebanon / Qatar DFI Grant Recipient Screening: Arabian Nights Saturday, 7 December, 8:00 PM Monday, 9 December, 3:15 PM
Ladder to Damascus Directed by Mohamad Malas Syria / Lebanon / Qatar Co-financed by the Doha Film Institute Screening: Muhr Arab Feature Tuesday, 10 December, 9:15 PM Thursday, 12 December, 6:30 PM
Izriqaq Directed by Rama Mari Palestine / Norway / Qatar DFI Grant Recipient Screening: Muhr Arab Short Tuesday, 10 December, 6:15 PM Thursday, 12 December, 1:15 PM
My Love Awaits Me by the Sea Directed by Mais Darwazah Jordan / Palestine / Qatar / Germany DFI Grant Recipient Screening: Muhr Arab Documentary Sunday, 8 December, 9:30 PM Tuesday, 10 December, 3:15 PM
May in the Summer Directed by Cherien Dabis Qatar / Lebanon / USA / Jordan Co-financed by the Doha Film Institue Screening: Muhr Arab Feature Saturday, 7 December, 9:30 PM Monday, 9 December, 3:30 PM
Playtime Directed by Hamad Altourah, Kuwait / Qatar DFI Grant Recipient Screening: Muhr Arab Short Wednesday, 11 December, 9:30 PM Thursday, 12 December, 3:45 PM
Walls And People Directed by Dalila Ennadre Morocco / Algeria / France / UAE/ Qatar DFI Grant Recipient Screening: Muhr Arab Documentary Wednesday, 11 December, 6:45 PM Thursday, 12 December, 9:00 PM
Pillow Secrets Directed by Jillali Ferhati Morocco / Qatar DFI Grant Recipient Screening: Muhr Arab Feature Saturday, 7 December, 6:30 PM Monday, 9 December, 6:45 PM
Three Directed by Nayla Al Khaja United Arab Emirates / Qatar Doha Film Institute Hazawi Project Screening: Gulf Voices Saturday, 7 December, 8:45 PM Monday, 9 December, 6:30 PM
Waves Directed by Ahmed Nour Egypt / Morocco / Qatar DFI Grant Recipient Screening: Muhr Arab Documentary Monday, 9 December, 6:45 PM Wednesday, 11 December, 4:15 PM
Stable Unstable Directed by Mahmoud Hojeij Lebanon / Qatar DFI Grant Recipient Screening: Muhr Arab Feature Monday, 9 December 2013, 6:00 PM Wednesday, 11 December 2013, 6:30 PM
For more information on Doha Film Instituteâ€™s Film Financing initiatives, please visit dohafilminstitute.com
12/6/13 1:35 PM
brought to you by DIFF
4 projects vie for IWC Filmmaker Award A jury led by Academy Award-winning actress Cate Blanchett will reveal the winner of the second edition of the IWC Filmmaker Award tonight. The award, which includes a USD100,000 prize, will go towards the development of the winning project. We caught up with this year’s nominees ahead of the awards ceremony.
Waleed Al Shehhi, DOLPHINS
Zeyad Alhusaini, HOW I GOT THERE
Faiza Ambah, A REVERENCE FOR SPIDERS
Hussein Al-Riffaei, SIEGE Bahrain
What can you tell us about the story of your film?
Where and when are you hoping to film?
WS: DOLPHINS is a story of family. The story takes the audience through 24 hours of three different paths. The story is of the son, the mother and the father.
WS: The entire filming will be in Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE. If things go well with the fundraising, I hope to start filming by [the] beginning of 2014.
ZA: HOW I GOT THERE is an action/drama about an unconventional young Kuwaiti who takes us through an adrenaline ride, from growing up as a decent young man with peculiar views and desires, to his excursions into the closeted and gritty underworld of the Gulf. At the heart of the film, there is an intimate story about a man’s journey to self-realisation through inevitable self-destruction.
ZA: The film will be shot entirely in Kuwait, and we’re hoping to start around February/March 2014. FA: We’re hoping to film in New York at the end of 2014. HA: The film will be set in Bahrain. Hopefully we’ll be filming by winter 2014.
FA: A REVERENCE FOR SPIDERS is a story about a [Muslim] family living in New York. It’s a story about family dynamics, the strong pull of culture and religion, how outside expectations can stand in the way of and our own dreams for our lives. So it really is a universal story. And it’s ‘a coming of age’ story, only the protagonist is not an adolescent, but a grown man who has to learn to live his life on his own terms. It also tackles how ‘the other’ is viewed, whether you’re in the West looking East or in the East looking West. HA: SIEGE is about a 13-year-old girl who lives with her family. She sees a lot of subversive acts by unidentified persons in the neighbourhood, but doesn’t know what is going on. Eventually, only the girl and the housemaid are left in the family house, and riots break out and frighten her. She becomes partially alienated from reality and finds that the house is no longer a source of peace and security.
Can you tell us anything about the size of the production? WS: It’s a low budget production – I’m planning to use a lot of volunteers from colleges and universities. It will be [a] good chance for them to mix with professional crew. ZA: It’s a fairly healthy budget for a film in this region, but one that will allow us to achieve what we need. FA: It’s an ambitious project. We need about USD2 million to bring our vision to the screen with the quality we want.
What stage are you currently at in pre-production?
HA: It’s a fairly small budget.
WS: We’re fundraising and casting for the actors and actresses for the film. I have already allocated all of the [budget for] location. The crew are all identified and [we are] waiting for the actual production phase.
How much would the IWC fund help towards the project?
ZA: We just finalised putting together a powerful cast and now we’re in the process of closing the last part of the finances.
WS: IWC will help a lot in securing the actual production. As I’ve already got some other sponsors on hand I think the IWC fund will really help me start. ZA: IWC have been amazing in supporting my project; their backing inspires us and allows us to reach our potential and create extraordinary projects that contribute to the development of cinema.
FA: We have 10 percent of the budget in place. As soon as we get a grant, we will fly to New York and Canada to scout locations and I will fly to Los Angeles to work with a screenwriter that I had as a Sundance advisor to get the script at the best place possible.
FA: It would be a crucial financial support. But even more importantly it is a show of confidence in our project that will give other investors confidence to invest. It would be an amazing boost.
HA: We’ve just completed planning the production.
HA: It would help a lot. The fund will let us start production.
n 16 Screen International at Dubai December 7, 2013
PROGRAMMERS’ PICKS THE FERRY Dir: Attia Amin Do circumstances lead people to repeat the same mistakes in an attempt to cling on to their dreams? Could letting go of dreams be the price to pay for a better life?
THEY ARE THE DOGS Dir: Hicham Lasri Majhoul, an old man, was arrested in 1981 during upheavals in Morocco. He is released 30 years later and must come to terms with a new reality.
TODAY at 15:30 at MT
DEC 8 at 18:00 MoE 5
PILLOW SECRETS Dir: Jillali Ferhati On hearing of her mother’s death, a young woman is drawn violently back to her past when she was known as the daughter of Zahia, the prostitute.
BIDESIA IN BAMBAI Dir: Surabhi Sharma BIDESIA IN BAMBAI looks at the music that migrants produce and perform to stay connected to the home they have left behind, and to make a presence in the city that is home for now.
TODAY at 18:30 at MT
DEC 8 at 18:30 MoE 12
WUKAN: THE FLAME OF DEMOCRACY Dir: Lynn Lee, James Leong An intimate portrait of a rural Chinese community in the midst of change, the film explores Wukan’s challenges and how these mirror those facing fledgling democracies across the world.
THE VOIDING SOUL Dir: Shaji N. Karun Unni, a masterful chenda (a drum) player, is drawn to dancer Nalini by an intense force that transcends their devotion to the arts. However, their passion cannot hold up against the tumults in Unni’s life.
TODAY at 20:00 at MoE 10
DEC 8 at 20:45 MoE 2
A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM Dir: Mark Cousins As seen through 53 great films from 25 countries, A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM is a poetic portrait of the adventures of childhood – its surrealism, loneliness, exuberance and destructiveness.
CAMPAIGN 2 Dir: Kazuhiro Sôda Focusing on a small local election right after the Fukushima disaster, the film explores how the pro-nuclear Liberal Democratic Party achieved landslide victories for two national elections.
DEC 8 at 16:00 MoE 6
DEC 8 at 21:00 MoE 7
December 7, 2013 Screen International at Dubai 17 n