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MONDAY, DECEMBER 11 2017

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Ampas chief commits to diversity drive BY MELANIE GOODFELLOW

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is committed to increasing the diversity of its membership, its newly elected president John Bailey told DIFF yesterday. “The Academy has been widely perceived by the world for most of its history as a Hollywood bubble,” Bailey said. “All of us on the board of governors are committed to the spirit of diversity and inclusion, not just in terms of ethnicity and gender and religion among Western members, but also in terms of international outreach around the world.” He highlighted the recent arrival of Moroccan filmmaker Nabil Ayouch and Egypt’s Mohamed Diab as new members of the Academy.

Public to pen Nasrallah pic Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah has boarded the Arabic version of user-generated feature-film format Entertainment Experience, produced by Arab Format Lab. Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven participated in the original version of the format, produced by Amsterdam-based FCCE, which involves members of the public completing a feature-film script initiated by a director. The winning scripts are then remade by the director for theatrical release. Dubai and Jeddah-based Arab Format Lab acquired MENA rights to the format from FCCE last year. Dubbed the Arab Entertainment Experience, the Arabic remake will feature a pan-Arab version as well as spin-offs for the Egyptian, Saudi and Emirati markets. Nasrallah is leading the overall pan-Arab initiative. Nasrallah attends a presentation of the project at DIFF today with Arab Format Lab CEO Khulud Abu Homos and FCCE founder Justus Verkerk. Melanie Goodfellow

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The Syrians triumphs at Dubai Film Connection BY MELANIE GOODFELLOW

Tunisian director Mohamed Ismail Louati’s The Syrians has scooped the top $25,000 DIFF Award at the 10th Dubai Film Connection (DFC) co-financing event. The film, capturing the lives of five Syrian refugees forging a new life in Lebanon following the outbreak of civil war in their homeland, is produced by Willy Rollé at Stuttgart-based production house Tavma. The project also picked up three DFC partnership prizes, consisting of accreditation for Cannes’ Producers Network as well as invitations from Tribeca Film Institute in New York and Robert Bosch Stiftung in Germany to attend their respective development and financing programmes next year. In other DFC awards, Sudanese filmmaker Amjad Abu Alala won the $10,000 ART Award for his debut feature You Will Die At Twenty, about a man whose mother was told on the day of his birth that he would die at the age of 20. UK-Moroccan director Anwar Boulifa’s The Unwanted won the $10,000 Hideaway Entertainment Award. The north Morocco-set

The Charmer, page 6

REVIEW The Charmer Deftly detailed glimpse into Scandinavia’s Iranian community » Page 6

FEATURE In the frame Initiatives to support Palestinian filmmakers around the world » Page 10

Final print daily This is Screen’s final print edition at DIFF 2017. Please continue to follow all the latest news and reviews at ScreenDaily.com

FORUM EVENTS 10:00-11:00 Let’s get animated!

Willy Rollé and Mohamed Ismail Louati

tale, revolving around a young girl who falls pregnant to an unscrupulous tour guide, is produced by Bertrand Faivre of London-based The Bureau. French-Lebanese filmmaker Wissam Charaf clinched the $5,900 (¤5,000) Centre National du Cinema Award for Dirty, Difficult, Dangerous, about a romance between a Syrian refugee and a Ethiopian maid. Jordanian writer and director Bassel Ghandour won the $10,000 Cinescape/Front Row Award for

The Alleys, about a taxi driver who finds himself on the wrong side of a local gangster when he embarks on a secret romance. The Alleys was also invited to the SORFOND Pitching Forum next year, in another partnership prize provided by the Norwegian Films From The South fund, a long-time DFC attendee. Other recipients of Cannes’ Producers Network accreditations included Haider Rashid (Europa), Jessica Landt (I Dreamt Of Empire), Nayla Al Khaja (Animal) and Anissa Daoud (God Bless Buddies).

Hamed stirred by Arab James Bond BY LIZ SHACKLETON

Marwan Hamed is set to direct Adham Sabri: The Man Of The Impossible, the first film in a franchise based on Egyptian writer Nabil Farouk’s iconic spy series. Cairo-based The Producers, founded by Hani Osama and Hadi El Bagoury, is developing the project and will produce with Mohamed Hefzy’s Film Clinic. Often described as an Egyptian counterpart of Ian Fleming’s James Bond, The Man Of The Impossible series was published between 1984 and 2009 and has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide. “These books have a fanbase

TODAY

Marwan Hamed

right across the Arab world,” said Osama. “With all the turbulence in the Middle East, we believe the time is right to present a positive character from the region.” Production is scheduled to start after Hamed wraps political thriller Diamond Dust for New

Century Production, with release tentatively scheduled for 2019. The adaptation is being scripted by Hamed’s regular collaborator, Ahmed Mourad. Osama said the film will shoot in Egypt, Dubai, China and Europe: “The Arab world has never made a proper movie in China and it’s an important market. We hope to have cast from both China and the UAE.” Hamed’s credits include The Yacoubian Building, The Blue Elephant and Al Asleyeen. He is the son of scriptwriter Wahid Hamed, who is being feted with a lifetime achievement award here at DIFF.

Location Forum Room Panellists Ann Marie Fleming, filmmaker; Waleed Al Shehhi, director; Fadi Baki, Beirut Animated; Mina Nagy Takla, The Syndicate Moderator Nathalie Habib, Blink Studios

11:30-12:30 Short cuts: from theatre to art gallery Location Forum Room Speakers Yassmina Karajah, director; Sarah Abu Abdallah, video artist Moderator Ali Roche, Spike Film & Video. Presented with Art Dubai and Sharjah Art Foundation

11:30-12:30 The new frontier of audio: 3D immersive sound Location Sennheiser exhibition stand, DFM Presenter Ryan Burr, Sennheiser Middle East

14:00-15:00 Primetime with Michelle MacLaren Location Forum Room Guest Michelle MacLaren, TV director and executive producer

15:30-16:30 Shooting for the truth: a conversation with Morgan Spurlock Location Forum Room Guest Morgan Spurlock, filmmaker

17:00-18:15 Networking session: meet the UAE industry Location Forum Room


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NEWS

New genres, formats are way forward for Arab TV BY LIZ SHACKLETON

PICK UP THE MESSAGE A restored 4K version of late Syrian-American filmmaker Moustapha Al Akkad’s historical epic The Message, starring Anthony Quinn, premieres at DIFF on Wednesday. Dubai-based Front Row Filmed Entertainment, which teamed with US rights holders Trancas International on the restoration, is planning a wide theatrical release in the region during the Eid-Al-Fitr holiday period in 2018.

Web series to rebuild Little Syria BY MELANIE GOODFELLOW

New York-based The Middle East Film Initiative is plotting a web series inspired by life in Manhattan’s now disappeared Little Syria neighbourhood. The quarter existed from the 1880s until the 1940s and was home to migrants from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Palestine. The neighbourhood was redeveloped as its inhabitants moved out. “It was an incredibly vibrant place not only for business but also journalists, writers, poets and artists who found really creative ways of making sense of East and West identities,” said the initiative’s founder and executive director Ruth Priscilla Kirstein.

Launched in 2013, the body is aimed at media and entertainment professionals of Middle East descent, as well as recently arrived Middle Eastern communities. The body put out a call for writers earlier this year and recently selected Oklahoma-born Laura Annawyn Shamas as the pilot writer. Shamas is of mixed Native American, European and Arabic descent. “We’ll shoot the pilot in New York, casting out of the city. That’s important to us. The idea is that we do it as a media diversity project that responds to a need for quality entertainment for an audience that’s not been answered yet.”

Middle East TV producers need to start thinking differently about formats and genres ahead of the coming SVoD revolution, said speakers on a DIFF Forum panel, ‘The big binge theory’. “The way Arabic productions are made today is not sustainable,” said iflix strategic advisor Nader Sobhan. “The Ramadan-led production cycle means you have too many series competing for the same period. You’re also expanding the story across 30 episodes, diluting the strength of the production.” Two years after Netflix made a big splash at DIFF, ahead of a launch across the MENA region, the SVoD giant has still only com-

Hani Osama

missioned one Arabic production — a stand-up show with Lebanese comic Adel Karam. But Hani Osama, co-founder of Cairo-based The Producers, said the local industry should not be complacent. “Whether it’s Netflix or a local company, once one platform starts commissioning Arabic content, they all will. If you don’t start early, you’ll have problems finding good projects to launch on a

digital platform,” said Osama, whose credits include hit series The Seventh Neighbour. Osama added that he is experimenting with shorter formats, developing two 15-episode shows — Anta and Al Atabek — which is much closer to the average 10-12 episode runs of Netflix productions: “This is unusual for the Arab world, but it gives us a chance to sell to a digital platform first, then linear TV later.” Sobhan also urged producers to experiment with genre, citing horror show Kafr Delhab, which was a big hit over the recent Ramadan season. “We should focus on changing the trends by creating more projects of different genres.”

MAD, FilmLab inks Palestine distribution deal Cairo-based distributor and Arab cinema promoter MAD Solutions and FilmLab: Palestine have signed a landmark distribution deal. Under the accord, Ramallahbased FilmLab: Palestine — launched in 2014 to foster a Palestinian cinema culture and industry — will distribute a selection of titles on the MAD Solutions slate. FilmLab: Palestine will screen

the titles during its annual Days of Cinema festival taking place in October, as well as at other events it arranges throughout the year. “The purpose of these screenings is to bring back cinema-goers and encourage them to watch films at arthouse theatres,” said the body’s founder and artistic director Hanna Atallah. MAD Solutions managing

partner Alaa Karkouti said FilmLab: Palestine was playing a key role in building a Palestinian cinema culture. “What it has achieved in the past years is an important step in supporting Palestinian and Arab films, and attracting audiences to watch them through its activities. Our partnership is an extension of this,” he said. Melanie Goodfellow

ONE ON ONE MORGAN SPURLOCK, DIRECTOR, SUPER SIZE ME 2: HOLY CHICKEN!

The US filmmaker talks to Kaleem Aftab about how the fast-food industry reacted to his award-winning 2004 doc Super Size Me, as he brings the sequel to DIFF’s Cinema of the World section

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uper Size Me 2: Holy Chicken! sees Morgan Spurlock return to fast-food restaurants. This time he is not eating McDonald’s every day for a month but has decided that if you can’t beat them, join them. The film sees the food activist create his own “healthy” fast-food store called Holy Chicken!. Naturally, nothing is what it seems. Spurlock argues that since making Super Size Me in 2004, “There was a huge greenwashing that happened in the food industry where suddenly they said we have got ‘better’ but they were never going to do that by spending the money on more high-quality ingredients. The better way of doing that is to sell the same things in a much more unique and appealing way.” If Super Size Me is told from the consumer

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perspective, the sequel looks more closely at how the corporations handle regulations. “In America we’ve done a fantastic job of letting the corporations define the regulations, which has made everything work much more in the corporations’ favour than our favour.” Spurlock says he is worried that the UK, for example, may lower food standards postBrexit, with president Trump’s administration already suggesting that Britain would have to accept America’s chlorinated chicken in any reworked US-UK relationship. “Europe has done a pretty good job controlling that; we’ll see what happens post-Brexit.” The filmmaker also says that his pop-up restaurant Holy Chicken! may reappear in some guise given the global interest when he opened his first outlet in Ohio in November

Morgan Spurlock

2016. “As you read at the end of the film, on day four of the pop-up we get called by the franchise company, which is when we thought, ‘Wow, maybe there is a business here.’ Right now we’re going to focus on the movie and then see what happens.”

The next stop will be Sundance and then Berlin. “We were blown away by the response, and when we premiered at Toronto we had a Holy Chicken! food truck and we are likely to see another pop-up at Sundance.” Spurlock is currently working on a documentary on human intelligence and brain implant technology. “The age of Blade Runner is very much here,” he says. “When I made Rats last year, we cut and scored it like a horror film and it turned out infinitely cooler than we hoped. This one will be shot like a sci-fi movie.” And at some point in 2018, Spurlock is hoping to start work on his first fictional film as director. “We’ve got a couple of projects in our pipeline. One is a book that’s been adapted and the other is an original script, not written by me.”

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REVIEWS Reviews edited by Mark Adams madams9660@gmail.com

Kiss Me Not Reviewed by Mark Adams

The Charmer Reviewed by Mark Adams The title of Denmark-based Iranian filmmaker Milad Alami’s debut film seems to hint at a genial comedy or drama. But while this shrewdly structured film may well have the backdrop of a refugee desperately seeking a Danish passport by marrying a local woman, it is no Green Card-style romp. Instead, it cleverly balances psychological thrills with astute drama, all driven by an engaging central performance from Ardalan Esmaili. He plays Esmail, a good-looking Iranian expat in Copenhagen. He frequents high-end bars on the lookout for women. He may wear a nicely made suit, but in truth he lives in hostels for immigrants, works as a furniture mover and that suit is the only one he has. He needs to get married to stay in the country and his time is limited. On a certain level the story is the bleak and worryingly familiar tale of an immigrant trying to stay on in a new land, but The Charmer (Charmoren) morphs into a dark drama with hints of film noir, and while leisurely paced Alami and Anna Ingeborg Topsoe’s screenplay is always absorbing and intriguing. The film opens with Esmail having sex with a woman, which then spirals off to a moment of drama that is only resolved later in the film. We next see him doing his best to sustain another relationship with a Danish woman, but she breaks it off, saying he is “rushing it”. Back at his regular pick-up bar he meets smart and savvy Iranian-born Danish citizen Sara (singer Soho Rezanejad, who makes a charismatic screen debut), but she is wise to his intentions. As he meets her mother and becomes more involved with the Iranian community in Denmark, the pair start to get closer. He sees hope for his Danish future but his past comes back to haunt him, with the film taking some shrewd changes of direction and becoming a much more complex story. Esmaili and Rezanejad bring a real sense of compassion and depth, their scenes together brimming with a sense of shared history. Director Alami offers a nuanced and deftly detailed glimpse into Scandinavia’s Iranian community, with the film ultimately striking because of its thematic complexity as much as its nicely structured storyline.

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CINEMA OF THE WORLD Den. 2017. 103mins Director Milad Alami Production companies Good Company Films, Garagefilm International, Film i Väst, Act3, RedRental, FilmGear International sales Alma Cinema, sales@ almacinema.com Producer Stinna Lassen Executive producers Anni Fernandez, Vibeke Windelov, Ole Sondberg, Olivier Muller, Gary Farkas, Clément Lepoutre Screenplay Anna Ingeborg Topsoe, Milad Alami Cinematography Sophia Olsson Editor Olivia NeergaardHolm Music Martin Juel Dirkov Main cast Ardalan Esmaili, Soho Rezanejad, Lars Brygmann, Susan Taslimi, Amalie Lindegard

One of the buzz films of the festival, Egyptian writerdirector Ahmed Amer’s feature debut Kiss Me Not (Balash Tbousny) takes a series of comedy pot-shots at increasing prudishness and self-censorship in Egyptian cinema. He delivers an engagingly frothy film about the film business that could well click with local and wider Arab audiences, with the presence of award-winning actress Yasmin Raeis a real bonus. Raeis (credited here as Yasmine Rais) is a sophisticated and charismatic performer, and her turn as an actress named Fagr who decides to follow a more religious route just as she is about to take part in a climactic scene involving a kiss, gives the film its amusing core. First time filmmaker Tamer (Mohamed Mahran) has reached the final, oh-so vital scene in his film The Mirage, but Fagr is increasingly unhappy about the bed scene in which she has to kiss her co-star, declaring it sinful. She turns out to have had a religious vision, and while Tamer insists they wrap the scene as written, she manages to avoid the kiss in an increasingly funny series of failed film-takes. Just when it looks like happening, a call to prayer is sounded and she runs off the set for good. Kiss Me Not has fun tackling all aspects of Egyptian cinema as Tamer tries desperately to get Fagr back for the vital scene. Thrown into the mix are a friend from film school, who is shooting a documentary about kissing in Egyptian cinema and is on set recording Tamer and his team at the time; a producer who suggests using body doubles; and real-life directors Khairy Beshara and the late Mohamed Khan (helmer of Raeis’s 2013 DIFF hit Factory Girl), who bicker, compete, offer advice and even suggest an animated ending. With Fagr now only agreeing to perform in a hijab, Tamer has to get creative to finally finish his film. Kiss Me Not is nicely paced, which suits its short running time, and while not quite as confrontational and controversial as it might have been, it is engaging entertainment. From its animated opening-credits sequence through to its satisfying end, Kiss Me Not is a smartly made production.

ARABIAN NIGHTS

Egy. 2017. 88mins Director/screenplay Ahmed Amer Production company Middle West Films Sales contact MAD Solutions, info@madsolutions.com Producers Wael Omar, Dina Daouk, Ahmed Amer, Alaa Karkouti, Maher Diab Cinematography Hossam Shahine Editor Emad Maher Production designer Marwa El Kassar Music Omar Fadel Main cast Yasmine Rais, Sawsan Badr, Mohamed Mahran, Aida Riad, Salwa Mohamed Ali

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SCREENINGS, PAGE 12

Zagros Reviewed by Mark Adams MUHR FEATURE

Cactus Flower Reviewed by Mark Adams MUHR FEATURE

As two very different Egyptian women find themselves thrown out of their apartment block onto the busy streets of Cairo, writer-director Hala Elkoussy’s handsomely mounted feature debut uses their plight as a reflection on the city and modern-day Egypt and also to ruminate on the nature of family and friendship. Balancing magical realism with wistful drama, this tender film is given heart and soul thanks to the lead performances by Salma Samy and Menha Batraoui, whose supportive friendship leads them on a thoughtful journey. The poetic sentimentality might make it a tough sell for certain audiences, but locally it could strike a chord, especially for older viewers. The film opens with an artistic and languid flashback to the childhood of Aida (Samy) as she poses for a photograph for her mother, who then promptly drives away. As a 33-year-old adult, she is an actress (or, in her words, “an aspiring actress for 10 years”) who goes through a series of auditions, and struggles to pay the rent. When her 70-year-old neighbour Samiha (Batraoui), an ageing diva, hurts her leg in a fall, Aida and 20-yearold Yassin (Marwan Alazab), who lives nearby, take her to hospital. When they return, their apartment block has been flooded and Aida and Samiha are blamed and thrown out of the building. They end up crisscrossing a bustling and occasionally threatening Cairo in taxis, looking for a safe place to spend the night. Over the coming days, their trials and tribulations lead them to estranged family members (Aida reunites with her mother; Samiha visits her estranged sister) and former friends and lovers. These meetings are often shown as colourful and dreamy intermezzos with music and dance, highlighted by bright and colourful costumes that link to the poetic nature of some of the sequences. Director Elkoussy has crafted a gently melancholic film that is essentially about friendship. Samy is an elegant lead who juggles feisty optimism with a sense of lingering mournfulness, while Batraoui’s Samiha is brimming with resilience and determination while also clinging to memories of a life well-lived.

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Egy-UAE-Nor-Qtr. 2017. 104mins Director/screenplay Hala Elkoussy Production companies Transit Films, Nu’ta Films, Duo Films International sales Transit Films, hossamelouan@gmail. com Producers Hossam Elouan, Hala Elkoussy, Abdelsalam Moussa Cinematography Abdelsalam Moussa Editor Micheal Youssef Music Ahmad El Sawy Main cast Salma Samy, Menha Batraoui, Marwan Alazab, Zaki Fateen, Arfa Abdel Rassoul, Sedky Sakhr

Those demons of tradition, familial influence and good old-fashioned jealousy conspire to bring down an essentially good — though rather lost — man in Sahim Omar Kalifa’s debut film Zagros, which follows the increasingly dark story of a Kurdish shepherd who follows his wife to Belgium but cannot leave behind the weight of his old life. The film, which won the grand prix for best film at the 44th Film Fest Gent — the first Flemish film to win the award since the festival was founded — feels familiar in its depiction of tortured masculinity in the form of a man who simply cannot learn to trust the woman that he loves. But it is delivered as an astutely made drama driven by impressive lead performances and tinged with an overwhelming sense of sadness. The film opens in bucolic fashion as shepherd Zagros (Feyyaz Duman) tends his herd up in the hills with his dog Mr Spock, and is visited by his pregnant wife Havin (Halima Ilter) and their young daughter Rayhan (Daria Hachem Mohamed Gulli). But back in their village, the gossips are spreading rumours that she has had an affair with local salesman Ali. After she is struck by a family member and Zagros’s village-elder father Abdollah tries to put her under house arrest, Havin runs away to the hills to join her guerrilla-fighter sister Eliz (Elvan Kocer). She decides to head to Belgium to stay with a cousin, and while Zagros tries to continue with his rural life he realises he needs her, and makes his way illegally to Belgium. But when reunited he finds that old suspicions and jealousies re-emerge, and he starts to suspect Havin and her cousin Dara (Suat Usta) may be involved. Just when it seems the couple might find a way forward, his father arrives in Brussels and reignites Zagros’s suspicions, even claiming that Ali is the father of the daughter. Matters take a brutally dark turn when Zagros, returning from work at an abattoir, spots Dara and Havin hugging in the street. While at heart a relatively straightforward drama, the film does deal smartly with the conditions faced by women in Kurdistan, with Ilter especially striking as put-upon Havin.

Bel. 2017. 102mins Director Sahim Omar Kalifa Production companies A Private View, Viking Films, Man’s Films Productions International sales Global Screen, info@ globalscreen.de Producer Dries Phlypo Screenplay Sahim Omar Kalifa, Jean-Claude van Rijckeghem Cinematography Ruben Impens Editor Dorith Vinken Music Rutger Reinders Main cast Feyyaz Duman, Halima Ilter, Daria Hachem Mohamed Gulli, Brader Musiki, Suat Usta, Maaike Neuville, Elvan Kocer

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ARAB 2017

Neilson Barnard/Getty

STARS OF TOMORROW ARAB 2017

Ayman Al-Shatri

Producer-director (Iraq) The Iraqi producer-director is making award-winning short films that portray the chaotic complexity of life in his home country. By Melanie Goodfellow

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t was the noise he remembers most. Iraqi director and producer Ayman Al-Shatri was an 11-year-old schoolboy, growing up in the city of Nasiriyah on the Euphrates river, when the US-led coalition invaded Iraq in 2003. “When the war began, it was really loud. We were all scared but my father tried to reassure us,” Al-Shatri recalls. “We couldn’t go to school; we were stuck at home. There was no TV or any means to communicate, only the light of the lantern, the darkness and the sound of the explosions. “I loved Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, JeanClaude Van Damme, Jet Li and Bruce Lee when I was young. When the war broke out, me and my younger brothers would tell one another stories inspired by their films.” The war, and the 14 years of violence that have followed, are a big part of why 25-year-old Al-Shatri has become a filmmaker. “It stems more from wanting to capture the current reality of Iraqi society,” he explains. “Our lives as Iraqis are films. Our reality is full of strange and suspicious stories. I’ve lived through all the stories, scary, painful and deadly, and I’m always thinking, ‘How can I can represent this?’” Al-Shatri’s award-winning 2015 short Warm Night stars his younger brother, Montazer Abdul Kareem, as a schoolboy trying to memorise his Iraqi history lesson at home, while a local cameraman attempts to capture a new chapter in Iraq’s history outside on the conflict-hit streets. “I loved the character of the boy in Warm Night,” says Al-Shatri. “He represents our generation as we were in 2003, not fearing anything or thinking about war, only thinking about the future.” Al-Shatri, who works as the head of editing and graphics at a TV production company in Baghdad, moved to the Iraqi capital to study at the film and TV department of Baghdad University’s College of Fine Arts in 2011. It was during this time he met his band of faithful collaborators including Ameer Ihsan, Aws Al-Lami, Karrar Al-Mahdi and Mounir Saleh. The group works together closely as an informal collective, making self-

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financed micro-budget short productions. Ihsan is also a director and has worked as a co-writer and producer on nearly all of the films Al-Shatri has made to date. Al-Shatri has supported Ihsan’s directorial work in a similar way. Their films have a sophisticated, cool aesthetic that defies the lack of facilities, equipment and finance in Iraq. “My team is the biggest reason behind my success,” says Al-Shatri. “I consult with them on every detail. I couldn’t make a frame without them. We’ve sometimes made zero-budget films. That’s impossible to do alone.” Their latest collaboration is the short film Five O’Clock, directed by Al-Shatri, about a man contemplating whether he will really go ahead with a planned suicide attack. He wanders around Baghdad with a fully charged belt, eventually sitting down at a bus stop where he gets into conversation with a female psychology student who has just written a paper on suicide bombers.

“Five O’Clock was made with a very small budget and cost us a lot of effort,”Al-Shatri explains. The short premiered at DIFF last year before hitting the international festival circuit, screening most recently at Malmo Arab Film Festival, where it garnered a special mention. Filmmaking for Al-Shatri is a real family business. “They have always supported me. It was my father who planted the love of cinema in me during my childhood,” says the young filmmaker. “My mother is the one who makes us food when we’re busy filming. She’s always joking that she’s the production manager. My brothers are my critics when I finish a film. They’re always the first ones to watch it at home. They give me their opinion and help me make notes.” Contact Ayman Al-Shatri aymanalshatri@gmail.com

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LYNNE RAMSAY & DIPESH JAIN PROFILES

Joaquin Phoenix in You Were Never Really Here

Breaking out Dipesh Jain talks to Liz Shackleton about shooting In The Shadows in the walled city of Old Delhi

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Her dark materials UK writer-director Lynne Ramsay tells Kaleem Aftab about why You Were Never Really Here, her first film for six years, subverts audience expectations

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guess this film is about white men in power that are beyond reproach,” says Lynne Ramsay of her adaptation of Jonathan Ames’ 90-page pulp novella You Were Never Really Here. Joaquin Phoenix stars as Joe, a hitman hired to rescue kidnapped Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov) the young daughter of a New York senator. Since the film debuted in an unfinished cut at Cannes, the industry has been rocked by multiple abuse scandals and with each sordid revelation Ramsay’s thriller seems ever more prophetic. “It’s a kind of strange, traumatic time,” says Ramsay. “Just as you think you’ve got a handle on something, you realise that you haven’t. I think a lot of people are realising that you cannot behave like that, you’re not God.” In the production process, Ramsay and Phoenix would discuss how the film etches away at masculinity. “It defies expectation and it’s not what you think it’s going to be; it turns the genre on its head a little bit,” Ramsay explains. “Joe thinks he can save someone, but it’s a much bigger picture than he thinks. He’s not this knight in shining armour but it’s not for me to say whether this is a feminist parable or something.” Ramsay was handed the novella by

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‘The story defies expectation and it’s not what you think it’s going to be; it turns the genre on its head a little bit’ Lynne Ramsay

Rosa Attab of France’s Why Not Productions and devoured Ames’ prose in two hours. She wrote the screenplay on spec while living on a quiet, traffic-free Greek island, imagining Phoenix in the lead role. She got in contact with him through UK producer Jim Wilson, who had worked with the actor on Buffalo Soldiers, and went on to produce You Were Never Really Here. “I emailed Joaquin and then we spoke on the phone. He told me he understood only half of what I said because of my Scottish accent. I felt like I knew him. I was at a film festival in Krakow when he called to say he had a tiny window and the next week I had to pack my family and bags ready to shoot for 29 days in New York in a boiling hot summer.”

os Angeles-based filmmaker Dipesh Jain has made his feature debut with psychological drama In The Shadows, starring some of the biggest names in Indian independent cinema, headed by Manoj Bajpayee (Gangs Of Wasseypur, Aligarh). He plays a reclusive man living in the maze of Old Delhi who spies on his neighbours through homemade surveillance cameras. When he hears a young boy being brutally beaten in a neighbouring apartment, his paranoia intensifies and he becomes obsessed with saving the child. Ranvir Shorey also stars, along with Neeraj Kabi, Shahana Goswami and child actor Om Singh. Jain says the project started with the idea of a man being trapped both within his own mind and the crumbling alleyways of Delhi’s walled city, He added the story of child abuse after researching a documentary on the subject. “My mum’s family comes from Old Delhi so I spent a lot of time there as a child,” says Jain, who produced the film with his sister Shuchi Jain, founder of the UK’s Exstant Motion Pictures, and Berlin-based Swiss producer Lena Vurma. “Those experiences — hearing voices through walls, getting lost in the maze of alleyways — have stayed with me.” Although he wrote the script with Bajpayee in mind, Jain didn’t manage

to connect with the actor until two months before the shoot. “His dates are booked a year in advance, but he grilled me on the script for three hours, then decided to move his schedule around,” Jain explains. “He gave me goose bumps in that initial meeting because he totally understood all the physical nuances of the role.” Filming in the narrow, crowded lanes of Old Delhi proved more difficult than locking down the cast. “It’s a tricky place to shoot because the locals and authorities know there’s a premium on locations and our cast was not unknown. We had a lot of security guards to handle crowd control and some of my mum’s connections also helped.” A graduate of the University of Southern California film school, Jain has written and directed awardwinning shorts, documentaries and plays. He is now working on his second feature, A Stone’s Throw Away, about a US engineer and his encounter with a child soldier in Kashmir. In The Shadows had its world premiere at Busan International Film Festival, swiftly followed by screenings at Mumbai and Chicago festivals. Paris-based Premium Films is handling international sales. In The Shadows plays at the Mall of the Emirates at 18:00 on December 10 and 14:45 on December 12 Manoj Bajpayee leads In The Shadows

You Were Never Really Here will have a gala screening at Madinat Arena at 18:00 on December 12

December 11, 2017 Screen International at Dubai 9


SPOTLIGHT PALESTINIAN PRODUCTION

Wajib

A moment to shine

Can Palestine ever create its own film industry? Melanie Goodfellow looks at the impact of several new initiatives that aim to get a better deal for Palestinian filmmakers scattered around the world

P

alestinian filmmakers are out in force at DIFF this year led by Annemarie Jacir who touches down in the Muhr Arab Feature competition with the Nazareth-set father and son comedy-drama Wajib. DIFF habitué Mahdi Fleifel returns to the Muhr Short programme with A Drowning Man, about a young Palestinian migrant, alone and adrift in Athens. The shorts competition also features Rakan Mayasi’s Bonboné, about a Palestinian couple’s attempts to conceive a son while the husband is held in a high-security Israeli prison. Additionally, Yassmina Karajah’s Rupture follows four Arab teenagers as they look for a swimming pool in their new Canadian hometown. Bethlehem-born, New York-based Jacir has been coming to DIFF since the early days of her career, when her Like Twenty Impossibles screened in the Arabian Shorts section in 2003. She went on to win the best screenplay prize for debut feature Salt Of the Sea in 2008, which was Palestine’s entry to the best foreignlanguage Oscar category that year. In her third feature Wajib, Jacir turns her attention to the Palestinian population living in Arab towns and villages

‘We don’t have an industry but we have people doing interesting things with whatever resources we have’ Annemarie Jacir, filmmaker

Bonboné

within Israel’s 1948 border. Although culturally Palestinian, they are administratively classed as Israeli. The film portrays a father and his estranged son forced together by an old Nazareth wedding tradition under which the father and brothers of the bride personally deliver wedding invitations to friends and family. Veteran actor Mohammed Bakri co-stars opposite real-life son Saleh Bakri. “I was interested to find this custom alive in Nazareth,” says Jacir, who

10 Screen International at Dubai December 11, 2017

observed the tradition first-hand when her husband and father-in-law delivered invitations for her sister-in-law’s wedding. “It is a city that is undergoing such an identity crisis and living so many contradictions. It’s as if the population holds on to this tradition all the more tightly.” Chasing the money Wajib is Palestine’s entry to the foreignlanguage Oscar category this year but was as hard to develop and finance as all Jacir’s previous features. Osama

Bawardi, her long-time producing partner at Philistine Films, pulled together a patchwork of investments, involving eight co-producers, post-production support from DIFF’s Enjaaz and the Doha Film Institute, and a small grant from the Palestinian Ministry of Culture. One of the co-production companies is Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra’s Ciudad Lunar, the company behind Oscar-nominated picture Embrace Of The Serpent. “Wajib is the first ever ColombianPalestinian co-production,” says Jacir. “It was Osama who suggested we went to the Colombian Film Commission. I was like, ‘This has nothing to do with South America, what are you talking about?’ He said, ‘Let’s try.’

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“We applied and were accepted,” she continues. “They had two requirements, Colombian crew and a cast member. Our gaffers were Colombian. We called them our ninjas; they were great workers. And for the cast member, the great thing about Palestinians is that they’ve gone all around the world. A lot of them went to Colombia, and then came back. So, we were able to find a Palestinian with Colombian citizenship in Nazareth.” The intricate and creative financing of Wajib is fairly typical of how Palestinian productions come together. “We don’t have an industry but we have film-makers, writers and people doing really interesting things with whatever resources we have but it’s hard,” said Jacir. A handful of mainly West Bank filmmakers are attempting to change this situation with grassroot initiatives emulating the film development and promotion bodies that exist in betterresourced territories. This October saw the launch of the first Palestine Film Meetings industry event within the framework of the Days of Cinema film festival in Ramallah. It featured a project market and a programme of talks on topics such as ‘Film-making without infrastructure’. Both the festival and industry platform are initiatives of Ramallah-based Filmlab Palestine, created in 2014 by filmmaker Hanna Atallah to foster a Palestinian cinema culture and industry. Director Muayad Alayan, best known internationally for his 2015 feature Love, Theft And Other Entanglements, is also involved and headed up the debut industry programme. “We need a whole cycle — from children being exposed to cinema, to schools that teach filmmaking, to support from the government, private sector or NGOs [non-governmental organisations] to create a base for cinema to grow in a sustained way,” says Alayan. “Because the political situation is so complicated, we can’t really pressure the government to create a film fund or impose a levy on media outlets to generate some investment for film.” Perils of partnership Co-producing is often the only route to get a feature off the ground but Alayan suggests current co-production models are as much a hindrance as a help to the overall development of a national film industry. “They have helped us make some amazing films but they have all slowed down the development of the cinema sector in the country,” he says. Alayan’s bugbear is the requirement for Palestinians filmmakers to make crucial concessions when it comes to hiring key crew members to fit the terms of a co-production deal as they have so little money to

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‘Co-productions helped us make some amazing films but they have slowed down the development of the cinema sector’

FIVE TO WATCH LATEST PALESTINIAN PROJECTS

Muayad Alayan, filmmaker

bring to the table. “This means Palestinian films are rarely shot by a Palestinian DoP. It means we’re not training local heads of departments,” he said. “We need to find new ways of producing and structuring these deals.” Another key issue for the creation of a national film industry is the geographical sprawl of its filmmakers. Many, such as DIFF participants Fleifel, Mayasi and Karajah, are based outside of the West Bank and Gaza, as part of a diaspora that has swelled to some 6 million people since the creation of Israel in 1948. “I have never been to Palestine,” reveals Bonboné director Mayasi. “I know about it through photos, books, films and poems. I consider myself a Palestinian filmmaker because I belong to the Palestinian cause, those who were thrown out of their houses, not so long ago, by force.” In response to the scattered nature of the film-making community, Ramallahbased film-makers Mohanad Yaqubi and Bassam Jarbawi and Paris-based Raed Andoni launched a grassroots initiative called Future Logic in 2015, aimed at promoting new projects from Palestinian film-makers wherever they are based. Under its first round it helped to support seven projects including Lina Al-Abed’s Ibrahim, Basma Alsharif ’s Ouroboros, Fleifel’s A Man Returned, Alaa Ashkar’s You Reap What You Sow and Jarbawi’s Screwdriver (Mafak). The support aimed to give the films greater visibility at key events including Cannes and the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam. “We’re pulling together a second selection because we’re seeing amazing results with the first round,” says Yaqubi, whose own credits include documentary Off Frame AKA Revolution Until Victory. “Two of the projects have already been released, Ouroboros and You Reap What You Sow. Three will be released in 2018 and Bassam’s first film, Mafak, has gone into pros duction in Ramallah.” ■

Ibrahim

Ibrahim Dir Lina Al-Abed A documentary investigating the disappearance of the director’s father, Ibrahim, a member of the Palestinian militant group the Revolutionary Council. He set off on a mission in 1987 and never returned. Status Post-production

The Reports On Sarah And Saleem Dir Muayad Alayan Drama about the love affair between a Palestinian man and an Israeli woman who find themselves in political danger when they are spotted together. Status In post-production

Screwdriver (Mafak) Dir Bassam Jarbawi Former baseball star Ziad attempts to reform his old team after spending 15 years in an Israeli jail. Status In post-production Muayad Alayan

The Vagabond Dir Mohanad Yaqubi

A musical documentary exploring the work of the songwriter and oud player Wasif Jawhariyyeh (1897-1972) as contemporary Palestinian artists record an album that is inspired by his work. Status In development

De Facto Dir Rakan Mayasi Against the backdrops of Gaza, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece, three characters face hardships and challenges as they cross the Mediterranean as illegal immigrants in search of a better life. Status In development (Left) musician Wasif Jawhariyyeh is the subject and inspiration for Mohanad Yaqubi’s The Vagabond

December 11, 2017 Screen International at Dubai 11


SCREENINGS Edited by Paul Lindsell

» Screening times and venues are

correct at the time of going to press but subject to alteration.

paullindsell@gmail.com

DUBAI THEATRES ARENA Madinat Jumeirah

SOUK THEATRE Madinat Jumeirah

THE BEACH Opposite Jumeirah Beach Residencies

VOX CINEMAS Mall of the Emirates

THE DU VR CINEMA DIFF HQ

VOX CINEMAS OUTDOOR Galleria Mall

decide the destiny of those closest to him.

or does it magnify our worst traits in new ways?

Cinema of the World Mall of the Emirates — Vox 05 Public

DIFFerent Reality (2) The du VR Cinema Public

RAZZIA EXTRAVAGANZA

FESTIVAL 15:00 RAZZIA

(Morocco, France) Playtime. 119mins. Drama, romance. Dir: Nabil Ayouch. Cast: Maryam Touzani, Arieh Worthalter, Abdelilah Rachid. Casablanca is vibrant, rough, inviting and unforgiving. Four souls in the city are in pursuit of the truth. Hakim lives in the conservative medina and dreams of being a rock star. Salima struggles to free herself from a society that wants to

define her. Joe, a Jewish restaurateur, chooses to live in the Casablanca of his dreams. Ines is torn between tradition and modernity as she deals with her sexual awakening. More than three decades earlier, a passionate teacher in the Atlas mountains is silenced and through the echo of his shattered dreams, the four souls’ disillusion fans the sparks that will light up the city. Muhr Feature Mall of the Emirates — Vox 06 Public

Dir: Mike Samir, Matej Chlupacek. Cast: Robert Ashe, Tricia Kelly, Steve Paget. In a fictional part of England where everything is in perfect working order, chaos reigns when an elderly resident paints her house pink. The committee debates the matter, tempers flare and hilarity ensues. As a member of the meeting, characters address you directly and you have a first-hand view of smalltown bureaucracy going terribly and amusingly wrong.

enduring a curse for their abuse of power. Centaur, who is beyond any suspicion, becomes a horse thief as he thinks only a genuine nightrider praying for forgiveness can undo the curse. When his secret is revealed, he will be forced to

(US) 6mins. Fiction, animation, comedy. Dir: Ethan Shaftel. Cast: Paul Scheer, John Gemberling, Will Greenberg. An immersive VR film that mixes animation and live-action footage in a bitingly funny satire. You are a puppet trapped in an offensive show, performing for a clueless executive and confronted with his prejudices. Can technology change society for the better,

See box, left

15:15 STORIES OF PASSERS THROUGH

(Iraq) 67mins. Creative documentary. Dir: Koutaiba Al-Janabi. Cast: Amer Mahdy. A montage of stills and filmed scenes captured by the director Koutaiba Al-Janabi over 30 years. This is a personal journey and a diary about exile from his place of birth, Baghdad, and the loss of

DIFFerent Reality (1) The du VR Cinema Public

15:00 09:00 INDUCED LABOR (TALQ SENAEY)

(Egypt) New Century Production. 90mins. Comedy, drama. Dir: Khaled Diab. Cast: Maged Elkedwany, Abdelrahman Abo Zhra, Horeya Farghaly. After tireless attempts to obtain legitimate entry to the US fail, an Egyptian couple hijack the US Embassy in Egypt, under the false pretence that birthing their twins there would somehow grant them American citizenship. Arabian Nights Madinat Arena Press

11:00 WAR TOURIST

(US) 30mins. Non-fiction, war. Dir: Emiliano Ruprah. An immersive film shot in and around Mosul, northern Iraq, during the offensive to retake the city. A war documentary with a personal perspective on the motives behind filming combat and an exploration about the role images play in militarising civilians. DIFFerent Reality (5) The du VR Cinema Public

13:00 THE COMMITTEE

(UK) 10mins. Comedy.

12 Screen International at Dubai December 11, 2017

CENTAUR

(Kyrgyzstan, Netherlands, Germany, France) The Match Factory. 89mins. Drama. Dir: Aktan Arym Kubat. Cast: Nuraly Tursunkojoev, Zarema Asanalieva, Aktan Arym Kubat. Centaur is a quiet and modest man. He is a loving husband and a caring father to a little boy. Together, they live a simple life in a small village in Kyrgyzstan. Well-respected within the community, Centaur believes that the Kyrgyz people, who were once invincible because of their horses, are now

FESTIVAL 15:15 THE SEEN AND UNSEEN

(Indonesia, Australia, Netherlands, Qatar) Cercamon. 86mins. Drama. Dir: Kamila Andini. Cast: Ni Kadek Thaly Titi Kasih, Ida Bagus Putu Radithya Mahijasena, Ayu Laksmi. Ten-year-old Tantra

spends most of his time in a hospital room. As his brain weakens, he starts to lose his senses. In this hospital room, his twin sister Tantri realises that she does not have a lot of time left with her brother. Haunted by the thought of life without him, every night she wakes from a

dream and sees Tantra. The night becomes their playground and under the full moon, Tantri dances. As the moon dims and is replaced by the sun, so are Tantra and Tantri. Cinema of the World Mall of the Emirates — Vox 13 Public

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FURTHER DIFF COVERAGE, SEE SCREENDAILY.COM

INDUCED LABOR (TALQ SENAEY)

(Egypt) New Century Production. 90mins. Comedy, drama. Dir: Khaled Diab. Cast: Maged Elkedwany, Abdelrahman Abo Zhra, Horeya Farghaly. After tireless attempts to obtain legitimate entry to the US fail, an Egyptian couple hijacks the US Embassy in Egypt, under the false pretence that birthing their twins there would somehow grant them American citizenship. Arabian Nights Madinat Arena Gala

of this idyllic suburban existence is Martin, a fatherless teen who Steven has covertly taken under his wing. As Martin begins to insinuate himself into the family’s life in evermore unsettling ways, the full scope of his intent becomes menacingly clear when he confronts Steven with a long-forgotten transgression that will shatter the Murphy family’s domestic bliss. Cinema of the World Souk Madinat Theatre Public

MUHR GULF SHORT: PACKAGE 3

(Iraq) 87mins. THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER

FESTIVAL 15:45 BAREFOOT (PO STRNISTI BOS)

(Czech Republic, Denmark, Slovak Republic) Biograf Jan Sverak. 111mins. Comedy, drama, war. Dir: Jan Sverak. Cast: Zdenek Sverak. Eight-year-old Eda is the long-desired and overprotected son of parents who had previously lost a child. Eda is a memory for his parents and even has the same name as his deceased sibling. In 1939, when his father renounces

a missing father. It is an exploration with a camera and a personal quest for the homeland. With an experimental approach to style and narrative, this film is testament to experiencing the world through the camera; as with lost time and the years that have passed, the filmmaker bears witness with his camera throughout his exile. Muhr Feature Mall of the Emirates — Vox 15 Public

THE SEEN AND UNSEEN See box, left

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the Nazi invaders of Czechoslovakia, the family leaves Prague and moves in with relatives in the countryside. The war presents mysterious adventures to Eda, whose childlike wonder cannot conceive of the dangerous and difficult times he lives in. Although his life is strange, Eda is faced with beautiful opportunities and he discovers deep family secrets as well as his own inner strength. Cinema of the World Mall of the Emirates — Vox 14 Public

WATERMELON CLUB (NADI ALBATIKH)

(UAE) 75mins. Drama. Dir: Yaser Al Neyadi. Cast: Khaled Almaani, Khaled Alnaimi, Mohamed Saleh. Late one summer night, six men meet on a farm, away from the hustle of the city. They indulge in bizarre and messy acts and games. At sunrise, the horrific aftermath places the six characters in a melancholic conflict with their shocking past. Muhr Emirati Mall of the Emirates — Vox 03 Public

15:45 BAREFOOT (PO STRNISTI BOS) See box, left

BORG/McENROE See box, below right

17:00

which Ameena has been saving up for. On the day, unexpected actions result in a misunderstanding that ultimately reveals the pure, deep love a grandson has for a grandmother. Cinema for Children Mall of the Emirates — Vox 01 Public

(Ireland, UK) HanWay Films. 109mins. Drama, thriller. Dir: Yorgos Lanthimos. Cast: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Raffey Cassidy. Dr Steven Murphy is a renowned cardiovascular surgeon presiding over a spotless household with his ophthalmologist wife Anna and their two exemplary children, 12-year-old Bob and 14-year-old Kim. Lurking at the margins

Muhr Gulf Short (3) Mall of the Emirates — Vox 03 Public

18:15 NAILA AND THE UPRISING

(US, Palestine) 76mins. Animation, drama, nonfiction. Dir: Julia Bacha. Cast: Naila Ayesh, Zahira Kamal, Terry Boulata. When a nationwide uprising breaks out in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, a young woman from Gaza must make a choice between love, family

SERGEANT JAMES

(France) Wide Management. 7mins. Fiction. Dir: Alexandre Perez. Cast: Elliot Daurat, Eleonore Joncquez. It is Leo’s bedtime. When his mum goes to switch off the light, the little boy thinks there is something under his bed… “Will you leave the light on, please?” asks Leo. DIFFerent Reality (3) The du VR Cinema Public

18:00 5 RUPEES (5 RUPYA)

(India) 82mins. Drama, family. Dir: Piyush Chandrakant Panjuani. Cast: Shabana Azmi, Yohaan Bimal Panjuani. Ameena is a poor old lady who lives in a tiny village in the foothills of the Himalayas with her seven-year-old grandson Hamid. On the last day of Ramadan, Hamid looks forward to breaking his fast with an Eid celebration and receiving a five-rupee coin,

FESTIVAL 15:45 BORG/McENROE

(Denmark, Finland, Sweden) Phoenicia Pictures International. 107mins. Biography, drama, sport. Dir: Janus Metz. Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Stellan

Skarsgard, Sverrir Gudnason, Leo Borg, Tuva Novotny. A film about two of the world’s greatest sports icons, Bjorn Borg and his biggest rival, the volcanic and irrepressibly talented John McEnroe. It charts

the rivalry of the tennis champions, who are legends in their own right, and the price they had to pay to reach the pinnacle of the sport. Cinema of the World Mall of the Emirates — Vox 17 Public

»

December 11, 2017 Screen International at Dubai 13


SCREENINGS

19:00 THE LAST CHAIR: FRED (AL MAKAAD AL AKHIR: FRED)

(Netherlands) 15mins. Non-fiction. Dir: Jessie van Vreden, Anke Teunissen. Through the protagonists — an elderly Egbert living out his last days, and Fred, a terminally ill ex-hippie — we experience a calm that is rarely seen in the modern world. At the same time, we are silent witnesses of lives drawing to an end. DIFFerent Reality (4) The du VR Cinema Public

19:30 MANOLO: THE BOY WHO MADE SHOES FOR LIZARDS

FESTIVAL 18:45 IN THE FADE (AUS DEM NICHTS)

(Germany, France) The Match Factory. 106mins. Drama. Dir: Fatih Akin. Cast: Diane Kruger, Denis Moschitto, Johannes Krisch. Katja’s life is shattered when her husband Nuri and son are killed in a bombing. Although Katja manages to make it through the funeral, the mind-numbing search

and freedom. Undaunted, she embraces all three, joining a clandestine network of women in a movement that forces the world to recognise the Palestinian right to self-determination for the first time. Using evocative under-camera animation, intimate interviews and exclusive archival footage, ‘Naila And The Uprising’ chronicles the remarkable journey of Naila Ayesh whose story weaves through the most vibrant, nonviolent mobilisation in Palestinian history — the First Intifada in the late 1980s. Arabian Nights Mall of the Emirates — Vox 15 Public

SUPER SIZE ME 2: HOLY CHICKEN!

(US) 103mins. Nonfiction. Dir: Morgan

for the perpetrators and the reasons behind the senseless killing complicate her mourning. Danilo, a lawyer and Nuri’s best friend, represents Katja in the trial against the two suspects: a young neo-Nazi couple. The trial pushes Katja to the edge but all she wants is justice. Cinema of the World Mall of the Emirates — Vox 14 Public

Spurlock. Cast: Morgan Spurlock. Morgan Spurlock, the revolutionary filmmaker behind the hit documentary ‘Super Size Me’, reignites his battle with the fast-food sector in this sequel. Follow Spurlock as he fights the industry at its own game — by opening his own fastfood chicken restaurant. We see his journey from raising his first chickens to working behind the counter when the store opens. No one is better at speaking truth to power than Spurlock, and in this entertaining and timely film he uses his disarming humour and charm to uncover the truth and lies behind the multibilliondollar industry known as “Big Chicken”. Cinema of the World Mall of the Emirates — Vox 05 Public

14 Screen International at Dubai December 11, 2017

18:30 BENZINE

(Tunisia) 90mins. Drama. Dir: Sarra Abidi. Cast: Sondos Belhassen, Ali Yahyaoui, Jamel Chandoul. Salem and Halima have no news of their son, who has left illegally for Italy. They live in agony, amid uncertainty. They have had no word for months and hear conflicting stories about the fate of their only son. Has he been found? Is he dead or alive?

to explore Lebanon’s paradoxes. The nation thrives for modernity but ignores the vices that obstruct achieving its desired status. As the Lebanese choose to turn a blind eye to the country’s flaws and history, Eid explores iconic monuments and secret hidings through sound and image. Muhr Feature Mall of the Emirates — Vox 13 Public

(UK) Park Circus. 89mins. Creative documentary, biography, drama. Dir: Michael Roberts. Cast: Isabeli Fontana, Miro Yanev, Manolo Blahnik. This is the story of how a boy who grew up on an isolated Spanish island became the world’s most influential shoe designer. The film reveals how Manolo Blahnik’s love for his craft, and each and every one of the shoes he creates, drives his artistry. More than simply a celebration of shoe design,

this documentary opens a window on Manolo’s vibrant inner world, serving as a gripping character study of a man whose name is ubiquitous, but who remains, largely, a mystery. The Beach The Beach Public

21:00 FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL See box, below

THE MAN BEHIND THE MICROPHONE

(Tunisia, UK, Qatar) Roast Beef Production. 98mins. Non-fiction, music. Dir: Claire Belhassine. Cast: Ferid Belhassine, Afifa Belhassine, Adel Jouini. Hedi Jouini is the most popular musical star in Tunisian history, often referred to as the country’s Frank Sinatra. His songs appeal to and inspire both revolutionaries and conservatives, striking at the heart of Tunisia’s postcolonial social and political upheaval that continues in the wake of the Arab Spring. He was a father to the nation but not to his own family. The incredible and complex story of the godfather of Tunisian music uncovers his reasons

Muhr Feature Mall of the Emirates — Vox 06 Public

MUHR EMIRATI: PACKAGE 1

(UAE) 64mins. Muhr Emirati (1) Mall of the Emirates — Vox 17 Public

18:45 IN THE FADE (AUS DEM NICHTS) See box, above

PANOPTIC

(Lebanon, UAE) 69mins. Creative documentary. Dir: Rana Eid. ‘Panoptic’ is a letter from Rana Eid to her father in an attempt to grieve her parent’s death. As she recalls the time spent huddled in bomb shelters during the Lebanese civil war, she tries to reconcile with her country’s turbulent past. ‘Panoptic’ delves into Beirut’s underground

FESTIVAL 21:00 FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL

(UK) IM Global. 105mins. Biography, drama, romance. Dir: Paul McGuigan.

Cast: Annette Bening, Jamie Bell. Based on Peter Turner’s memoir. Hollywood actress Gloria Grahame finds romance and happiness with a younger

man, but her life changes forever when she is diagnosed with breast cancer. Cinema of the World Mall of the Emirates — Vox 01 Public

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navigates through her new life with other ‘witches’ and a government official who exploits her innocence for his own gain, Shula must decide whether to accept her fate or risk the consequences of seeking her freedom. Cinema of the World Mall of the Emirates — Vox 13 Public

THE POETESS

FESTIVAL 21:00 THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

(UK) Fox Searchlight Europe. 110mins. Comedy, crime, drama, mystery. Dir: Martin McDonagh. Cast: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell. After months have passed without police progressing with their investigation into the murder of her daughter, Mildred Hayes

for hiding his fame from his family.

rents three billboards on the road leading into the town, plastering them with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby, the town’s revered chief of police. When his secondin-command Officer Dixon, a man with a penchant for violence, gets involved, the battle between Mildred and Ebbing’s law enforcement is only exacerbated. Cinema of the World Madinat Arena Gala

See box, right

teenager. Nisha’s two worlds collide when her father catches her in bed with her boyfriend. Her parents decide to kidnap the girl and place her with relatives in Pakistan. Nisha is forced to adapt to her parents’ culture in an unfamiliar country. A moving drama about the complex relationship between a father and his daughter.

WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY (HVA VIL FOLK SI)

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Muhr Feature, The Beach Mall of the Emirates — Vox 15 Public

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI See box, above

21:15 BIRTH (WILADAH)

(Norway, Germany, Sweden) Beta Cinema. 107mins. Drama. Dir: Iram Haq. Cast: Maria Mozhdah, Adil Hussain, Rohit Saraf. Sixteen-year-old Nisha lives a double life. At home she is the perfect Pakistani daughter, but when out with her friends, she is a regular Norwegian

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of a potential suicide bomber’s life. Baghdad, 2006: Sara, a young Iraqi woman, enters Baghdad Central Station with deadly intentions. We see her hand clutching a detonator. In a series of encounters, Sara meets her potential victims. Each exchange makes life the more compelling choice, yet still we see Sara struggle against the weight of her own indoctrination, leading to an unforgettable climax. Muhr Feature Mall of the Emirates — Vox 05 Public

MUHR SHORT: PACKAGE 1

(Lebanon, Syria) 94mins. Muhr Short (1) Mall of the Emirates — Vox 06 Public

21:45 I AM NOT A WITCH

(UK) Gregoire Graesslin — Kinology. 95mins. Drama. Dir: Rungano Nyoni. Cast: Maggie Mulubwa, Henry BJ Phiri, Nancy Mulilo. Nine-year-old Shula is exiled to a travelling ‘witch camp’, where she is told that if she tries to escape, she will be transformed into a goat. As she

(Saudi Arabia, Germany) CAT&Docs. 88mins. Non-fiction. Dir: Stefanie Brockhaus, Andreas Wolff. Cast: Hissa Hilal. Saudi Arabia’s Hissa Hilal is the voice from behind the veil. Her words are her weapon. Hissa is a self-taught writer and she says what she thinks. She decides to take part in the ‘Million’s Poet’ show, an Abu Dhabibased multimillion-dollar TV show. It is the Arab world’s biggest poetry competition, dominated by men. Hissa ends up as the first woman in the finals and in her poems she criticises the patriarchal Arab society. Although we never see Hissa’s face, we trace the story of the Saudi housewife, who emerges as a groundbreaking figure for having the courage to speak up. Arabian Nights Mall of the Emirates — Vox 14 Public

(Iraq, UK, France, Netherlands, Qatar) 82mins. Drama. Dir: Mohamed Al Daradji. Cast: Ameer Jbara, Zahraa Ghandour, Huda Abd Alameer. Tackles what might just be the final moments

EDITORIAL DIFF dailies editor and Asia editor Liz Shackleton lizshackleton@gmail.com Reporter Melanie Goodfellow, melaniegoodfellow100@ gmail.com Reviews editor Mark Adams, madams9660@ gmail.com Contributor Colin Brown, colinbrown1@earthlink.net Features editor Louise Tutt, tuttlouise@gmail.com Group head of production & art Mark Mowbray, mark. mowbray@screendaily.com Sub editors Paul Lindsell, Jon Lysons, Richard Young EDITORIAL Publishing director Nadia Romdhani, nadia. romdhani@screendaily.com, +44 7540 100 315 Commercial director Scott Benfold, scott.benfold@ screendaily.com, +44 7765 257 260 International sales consultant Raphael Bechakjian, raphael.bechakjian@ screendaily.com, +44 20 8102 0862 Production manager Jonathon Cooke, jonathon. cooke@mb-insight.com Group commercial director, MBI Alison Pitchford Chief executive, MBI Conor Dignam

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21:30 THE JOURNEY (AL RIHLA)

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FESTIVAL 21:15 BIRTH (WILADAH)

(UAE) 82mins. Drama. Dir: Abdulla Hasan Ahmed. Cast: Abdulrahman Al Muraqab, Nora Alabeed.

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December 11, 2017 Screen International at Dubai 15

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