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TODAY Pillow Secrets


Mohammed Al Turki

Al Turki and Golubovich to launch fund Saudi-born Hollywood producer Mohammed Al Turki is setting up a film fund, RAV Raw Artist Vision, with Russian producer Arcadiy Golubovich. To be launched mid-2014, the fund will support five US productions a year for five years, including one each year that will shoot in the Middle East region. “It could be a love story, comedy or drama; it doesn’t have to deal with politics or religion. We will try to shoot the film in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, availing of the rebates and incentives they offer. We would like to show more of the Arab landscape and culture in Hollywood films,” Al Turki told Screen. Al Turki has executive produced films such as Arbitrage, starring Richard Gere, and Richard Raymond’s upcoming Desert Dancer starring Freida Pinto. Golubovich’s producer credits include Paul Haggis’s Third Person. The producing duo have not specified the size of the fund but said they will approach institutional investors. Nandita Dutta

Editorial +971 56 212 6011


New Century plans Décor with Abdalla BY LIZ SHACKLETON

Cairo-based New Century Production is putting together an ambitious six-picture slate featuring some of Egypt’s leading veteran and independent film-makers, including the next project from Rags And Tatters director Ahmad Abdalla. Entitled Décor, the project is scripted by renowned Egyptian screenwriter Mohamed Diab, whose credits include award-winning sexual-harassment drama 678. Khaled Abol Naga (Microphone, Villa 69) and Egyptian actress Horeya Farghaly will head the cast. Scheduled to start shooting in the next few weeks, Décor marks the first big-budget production

from Abdalla, who has won acclaim for independent productions such as Heliopolis, Microphone and current Egyptian box-office hit Rags And Tatters. Abdalla plans to shoot Décor in black and white, the first time the format has been used in Egyptian cinema since Mohamed Fadel’s Nasser 56, about the late Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, in 1996. New Century will also produce Abnormal Decisions — written and to be directed by veteran Egyptian film-maker Daoud Abdel Sayed, whose credits include Land Of Fear and Kit Kat, which feature in DIFF’s book of the 100 best Arab films of all time. Getty

Palestinian American film-maker Cherien Dabis is set to adapt Suad Amiry’s Sharon And My Mother-InLaw, a humorous account of life in Ramallah during the Second Intifada. It will be her first feature set in the West Bank and in Arabic. “It’s a book based on e-mails she sent friends about the absurdities of life under occupation,” said Dabis, whose May In The Summer is competing in DIFF’s Muhr Arab Competition. The book spans seven years but Dabis will focus on

EFO Films opens Dubai office BY LIZ SHACKLETON

Michael B Jordan on the red carpet at DIFF’s gala screening of Fruitvale Station, in which he portrays Oscar Grant who was shot dead by California police on New Year’s Day in 2009.

Dabis to make Arabic debut with Mother-In-Law BY MELANIE GOODFELLOW

Fast becoming one of Egypt’s most prolific producers, New Century is also developing an as-yetuntitled project from Yousry Nasrallah. It will mark the second collaboration between New Century and Nasrallah following the director’s acclaimed Cannes 2012 Competition title After The Battle. New Century is a new production branch of Dollar Film, the oldest film-making company in the Arab world, which was established in 1949 and originally specialised in film distribution. The company will present the $10,000 New Century film-maker award at the close of Dubai Film Connection on Wednesday.

10 days when Ramallah was under a strict curfew during the 2002 Israeli re-occupation of the city. “During this time, the main character is stuck in her house with her mother-in-law. It’s a very funny look at family dysfunction under the extreme conditions of the occupation,” said Dabis. The film-maker is developing the dramatic comedy through her Displaced Pictures production company alongside producing partner Nadia Saah of FairPlay Media. She hopes to complete the

project within two years. Her breakthrough debut feature, Amreeka, dealt with a Palestinian woman in Chicago, while May In The Summer follows a successful New York writer who heads to Jordan to marry her Arab-American boyfriend (see review, page 7). Dabis is also developing a second project about a West Bank man in his 20s who is forced to enter Israel illegally in search of work. “There will always be humour present in my films but that’s more of a straight drama,” Dabis said.

US producer-financier Emmett/ Furla/Oasis Films (EFO Films) has opened an office in Dubai and will shoot two productions in the region in the next 18 months. “It’s an honour for us to be able to have a footprint in this region, as it is rich with new film opportunities for us film-makers. We look forward to working with local partners and being a part of the Dubai community,” said EFO Films coCEO Randall Emmett. EFO Films was formed by the recent merger between Emmett/ Furla Films and Oasis Ventures Entertainment, part of the Oasis Ventures group of companies, with offices in Dubai, New York, Los Angeles and Cayman Islands. The two productions that will shoot in the region have yet to be decided. Currently, the company is in production on action thriller The Prince, starring Bruce Willis, Jason Patric and John Cusack. In 2014, EFO Films starts production on Martin Scorsese’s Silence, the movie adaption of Monopoly, based on the popular board game, and horror thriller Hotel 33.

REVIEWS Pillow Secrets Jillali Ferhati’s drama is blessed with a powerful lead performance » Page 7

FEATURE Ramallah rising Palestinian film-makers are taking the festival circuit by storm » Page 8

FORUM EVENTS 9:30 - 10:30 How to market your film: producers – a film marketing strategy Location The Forum Room Presenter Sarah Calderon , The Film Agency

11:00 - 13:00 Interchange presentations Project presentations (11:00 - 12:00) One-to-one meetings (12:00 - 13:00) Location The Forum Room

14:00 - 14:45 Co-Production with the Arab world

Location The Forum Room Panelists Julie Baines, Dan Films (UK); Roman Paul, Razor Film (Germany), Habib Attia, Cinetelefilms (Tunisia), Sabine Sidawi, Orjourane Productions (Lebanon)

15:00 - 16:00 Iraqi legacy: children of the future

Location The Forum Room Panelists Mohamed Al Daradji, director and producer; Meedo Ali (Children Of War), Yasir Karem (Nesma’s Birds), Luay Fadhil (Lipstick), Sajjad Subaihawi (Happy Birthday), Ahmed Yassin (Children Of God), Yahya Al Allaq (War Canister)

16:15 - 17:00 Distribution of Arab films

Location The Forum Room Panelists James Velaise, Pretty Pictures (France), Antoine Zeind, AZ Films (Canada), Sam Eigen, Shoreline Entertainment (US), Delphyne Besse, Urban Distribution International (France), Hania Mroué, Metropolis Cinema (Lebanon)

17:15 - 18:15 Networking session: meet the sales agents and distributors

Location The Forum Room Participants Pretty Pictures, AZ Films, Shoreline Entertainment, Urban Distribution International, MAD Solutions, Metropolis Cinema

Qumra Doha Film Festival Save the Date: 19–25 March 2014

The Qumra Doha Film Festival is committed to exploring the imagination and lyrical visions of emerging directors. It supports them in bringing their projects to fruition, and provides a launchpad for their work. Join us for the inaugural edition in March 2014.

Doha Film @ Doha Film Doha Film Institute

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12/8/13 5:23 PM


Middle East cements ties with Thailand

Greenlight picks up the pace with genre trio



Thailand is attracting a growing number of shoots from the Middle East, according to Thailand Film Office (TFO), which is attending Dubai Film Market for the first time. Six films from the region with a combined spend of $15m have filmed in Thailand over the past three years, rising from a base of virtually zero prior to 2011. “We are extremely keen to attract film production from across the globe, and particularly to focus on countries with developing and expanding film industries,” said TFO director Ubolwan Sucharitakul. TFO also announced that Thailand has attracted foreign shoots worth a combined $62m (BAHT2bn) in the first 10 months of 2013, which was already a five-year high, two months before the end of the year. The total spend in 2012 was around $55m (BAHT1.78bn). Sucharitakul also pointed out that anti-government protests in Thailand are confined to specific areas and are not affecting international productions: “More than a dozen international productions are currently shooting in Thailand and not a single day of shooting has been lost. “Neither the productivity nor the safety of international productions has been affected in any way,” she added.

Emirati director-actor Abdullah Aljunaibi’s Greenlight Films is planning a slate of three genre films, kicking off with action thriller Run, which is scheduled to start shooting in March. The film revolves around a

gang of Emirati boys who lead a fun-filled life until they stumble on a hard disk that contains the video of an Emirati boy being stabbed. The cast will comprise newcomers and Aljunaibi will also star. Greenlight’s next two projects — Promise and Wishlist — are a hor-

Abdullah Aljunaibi directed — and stars in — short Bahar

ror film and love story respectively. Aljunaibi is also working on short film The Tunnel, scheduled to shoot in January, which tells the story of a retired teacher who opens a flower shop in a subway so he may see his former students pass by. Aljunaibi aims to make commercially viable features. “I don’t want to make films that just travel to film festivals, but release in the UAE and rest of the Arab world,” Aljunaibi said. “I want to tell gripping local stories in an international style without using metaphors that are hard to understand.” Aljunaibi co-directed short film The Path, which won best director in the Muhr Emirati competition at DIFF 2012. His short Bahar is in this year’s Muhr Emirati competition.

MBC and Aflamnah partner on workshops BY MELANIE GOODFELLOW

Pan-Arab broadcaster MBC is partnering with Dubai-based crowd-funding platform Aflamnah on a series of workshops in Saudi Arabia and Egypt on how to crowd-fund early next year. The two-day workshops will takes place in the Saudi city of Jeddah and Egyptian cities of Cairo and Alexandria in January and February for some 25-30 participants per session. Under the initiative, delegates will learn about the basics of crowd-funding, from what makes

Vida Rizq

a good pitch video, to how to develop a social-media strategy and reward system. “During the workshops, the participants will divide into teams and co-develop a cross-media campaign for four real-life pro-

jects — bringing the campaign to a stage that it can go live online,” said Aflamnah co-founder Vida Rizq. In addition to the workshops, Aflamnah is also launching a script-doctor service for film-makers in the region. “We’re working with professional script doctor Mohammed Abbas, who for a small fee will analyse and give advice on scripts,” said Rizq. She said costs for the service would start at around $100, but fees will vary depending on the complexity of the project.

Jamal Al Sharif

Dubai changes rules for freelancers Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC) is developing initiatives and laws in conjunction with the government to accommodate the needs of freelancers, DFTC chairman Jamal Al Sharif revealed this week at a DIFF forum. “The freelance base is not that large here,” said Al Sharif, explaining the reasons why DFTC is working to change laws that prevent freelancers and key film-industry figures from staying in the UAE for an extended time period. Driving that initiative are the high costs associated with the reliance on imported talent. Due to a lack of professionally qualified film crew, the UAE resorts to recruiting foreign freelancers which is expensive, noted former film packaging agent Phil Alberstat, who was legal adviser on Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol which filmed in Dubai and opened DIFF in 2011. However, as Alberstat and other panelists noted, it takes time to develop the basic skills that people need in filming. Nada Ramadan

ONE ON ONE MOSTOFA S FAROOKI, FILM-MAKER, ANT STORY revolves around a young graduate, Mithu, who dreams of becoming rich but is incompetent and shy. To deal with his impoverished life, he creates a fantasy world in which he is a rich man.

Bangladeshi film-maker Mostofa S Farooki, who won a special mention for Television at DIFF last year, is returning this year with the world premiere of his latest film, Ant Story, which is screening in the Muhr AsiaAfrica competition. The film

How did you get the idea for Ant Story? I wanted to tell the story of a guy who makes up stories in his mind and starts believing in those stories. I wanted to explore how, to counter the inappropriateness of his real life, he lives in a virtual world that eventually becomes stronger than reality. Ants can carry 10 times their own weight but if your dreams become too big for your shoulders, it might create an imbalance. Mithu

is a small ant who grows the wings of fantasy. How similar is it thematically to your previous film? Philosophically, it is the extension of Television. In Television there was a strong question about which of the two worlds is important: the real world or the imaginary world. In this film, the protagonist defies his real world and embarks on a journey of faking, lying and fantasising which gives him the immense pleasure of creativity because truth is what one has while lies are what one creates. So is there a theme that preoccupies you? Virtual reality. I think we all live in

two worlds simultaneously. Let me put it in the context of culture. There is a phrase in Bengali ‘chapa mara’, which literally means ‘fibbing’. It’s a favourite pastime of a lot of people. If you go to any tea stall in Bangladesh, people will tell you stories about themselves and their relatives. People actually fib to counter their unfulfilled desires. They are pretty imaginative, they make up different characters and stories according to their wish, and then start believing in those stories! Mithu is one of them. Do you see an international audience for this film? Of course. Stylistically and cinematically, Ant Story can be

accessible to anyone. The sense of deprivation and the dream of having a better life are universal. How does it feel to be back in DIFF Muhr AsiaAfrica competition? DIFF is one of the best festivals in Asia, and the Muhr AsiaAfrica competition has emerged as one of the most sought-after competitions. Films from Cannes, Venice, Berlin all come together here, so it becomes tougher than Cannes or Venice itself. You have to compete with the best of world cinema. It’s good to be part of such a prestigious competition for the second year in a row. Nandita Dutta

December 10, 2013 Screen International at Dubai 5 ■



Reviews edited by mark Adams

Pillow Secrets Reviewed by Mark Adams An atmospheric sense of ripe melodrama pervades the impressively staged Pillow Secrets (Sarirou Al Assrar), a Morocco-set film that has its world premiere here at DIFF. Its story of dark secrets, sexuality and the pressures of society may well feel familiar at times, but it is staged with mood and precision and blessed with a powerful lead performance by Fatima Zahra Bennacer as a tough woman who runs a local brothel with an iron fist. The sexual undercurrents and a couple of risqué shots may make it a problematic release for some Middle Eastern territories, but it has the lush shooting style and heady dramatic story to make it appealing to other international film festivals. Some of the plot strands do not quite tie together, but there is much to enjoy in the mood and sense of period location. The film opens with a young woman entering a morgue to identify the battered body of the woman who was her mother. The shock of seeing her takes the woman back into her past, when she lived in the ‘Big House’ with her mother Zahia (Bennacer). In truth the building was a boarding house converted into a brothel and Zahia ruled the building — and in fact much of the neighbourhood — with a stern sense of anger. As a little girl known only as the daughter of Zahia the prostitute, the youngster has a tough time making friends, with most local mothers forbidding their daughters to spend time with her. But she does find a real sense of warmth and family

may In The Summer Reviewed by Dan Fainaru Tagged as a dramatic comedy, though more dramatic than comic, Cherien Dabis’ follow-up to her much acclaimed Amreeka is a grittily witty tale of a Palestinian woman grappling with life in the US. The protagonist is still a Palestinian but she has lived and made a name for herself in the US, and returns to Jordan to face the family and the country she left behind years ago. Dabis’ decision to play the lead role suggests this may be a pretty personal affair, and anxiety is much more in evidence than sheer fun in this affectionate portrait of an upper middle-class family that is not having as good a time as they would like. May Brennan (Dabis) is in her early thirties, she lives in New York having recently published a warmly received book interpreting the Middle East through its proverbs, and is now back in Amman with her divorced mother Nadine (Abbass) and her two younger sisters Yasmine (Malouf ) and Dalia (Shawkat), waiting for the arrival of her boyfriend, Ziad (Siddig), a respected lecturer on Middle Eastern affairs. They intend to be married on home ground in the presence of their families, but it is not as simple as all that. Nadine, a devout born-again Christian, is against her daughter marrying a Muslim, feeling

MuhR ARAb FeAtuRe mor-Qat. 2013. 87mins Director/screenplay/ producer Jillali Ferhati Production company heracles Productions International sales Jillali Ferhati, ferhati89@ Cinematography Kamal Derkaoui Editor brahim barahamou music Louis Mancaux main cast Fatima Zahra bennacer, Rhita belkhadir, Majdouline Alidrissi


with the various prostitutes, and strikes up a gentle friendship with a local boy her own age who is, like her, something of a misfit at school. But drama is never far away from the brothel. Zahia has tussles with local smugglers of alcohol and cigarettes, the building is raided by police and the prostitutes jailed, and as a dramatic climax to the film Zahia reveals to Wafael — the girl’s real name is not spoken until the final scenes — the truth behind her birth. The film lapses into melodrama at times, but there are some memorably staged scenes, with all of the actresses especially fine. The sense of bonding between the prostitutes is especially evident in a beautifully shot scene as they wash themselves in a hot and steamy baths and sing together, with the song’s line, “I am not a libertine,” almost a mantra for how they view themselves and their lives together.

MuhR ARAb FeAtuRe US-Jord-Qat. 2013. 100mins Director/screenplay Cherien Dabis Production companies Displaced Pictures, Orjouane Productions International sales elle Driver, Producers Cherien Dabis, Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Christopher tricarico Cinematography brian Rigney hubbard Editor Sabine hoffman Production designer Ola Maslik music Carlo Siliotto main cast Cherien Dabis, hiam Abbass, Alia Shawkat, Nadine Malouf, bill Pullman, Alexander Siddig

Dir: Tsai Ming-liang. Tai-Fr. 2013. 135mins. Muhr AsiaAfrica Feature Stripped back until it is almost devoid of story, then stripped back some more, Taiwan auteur’s Tsai Ming Liang’s latest film — which he claims will be his last — is a meditation on the derelict fringes of urban life. Watching paint dry is an action movie compared to some of the agonisingly slow oneshot or two-shot scenes that Tsai forces his audience to sit through. And yet this is still a resonant film, a sort of recession-themed cinematic tone poem reminiscent of the more out-there cinematic forays of Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, that keeps on evolving once the pain of the viewing experience has subsided. Lee Marshall


The Brain That Sings

Dir: Amal Al Agroobi. UAE. 2013. 61mins. Muhr Emirati Competition A thoughtful and at times quite powerful documentary that has its world premiere here at DIFF, The Brain That Sings examines the state of care for people living with autism in Dubai. It focuses in particular on two boys, 18-year-old Mohammed and six-year-old Khalifa, as they receive music therapy over a three-month period. The film dwells on the cultural stigma associated with having children with special needs in the Arab world, and the issues facing the families. But music therapist Marion is a determined character, with the film also following 12-year-old Sara who has been having music therapy since the age of three. It has changed her from a girl who said little to one who sings and plays the piano. Mark Adams


Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom

mixed marriages are doomed to fail. As she should well know, since her former husband Edward (Pullman), who left her eight years ago and who she claims to hate with a passion, is American. The three siblings seem to be inseparable, though miles apart in character. Yasmine is a cheerful girl out to have a ball, while Dalia is still trying to deal with her own sexual identity, preferring female company to men. As time goes by and phone contact is not always available, May’s doubts about a lifetime commitment to Ziad beginning to seep in and finally threaten to take over after an accidental meeting with an easygoing tourist guide, who provides a friendly shoulder to weep on.

Dir: Justin Chadwick. S Afr. 2013. 144mins. Gala An unquestionably earnest and massive undertaking, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom aspires to do nothing less than be the definitive overview of the life of late South African leader Nelson Mandela (an impressive Idris Elba), one of the most colourful and momentous of the 20th century. The film focuses on his adulthood, spanning his time as a lawyer in the 1940s up to his election as South Africa’s president in the 1990s. It does not shy away from his early womanising and failed first marriage, but does dwell more on second wife Winnie (Naomie Harris) and his growing opposition to South Africa’s oppressive white government, which eventually earned him what was expected to be a lifetime prison sentence. Tim Grierson


December 10, 2013 Screen International at Dubai 7 n



Expressions of hope Despite huge challenges, Palestinian film-makers, led by Hany Abu-Assad and Annemarie Jacir, are taking the international festival circuit by storm. Melanie Goodfellow reports heir statehood contested, economy in the doldrums, foreign aid on the wane and citizens scattered more than ever across the globe, the situation for Palestinians is critical. But against these odds, their film-making community has never been so productive or visible on the international scene. “There is a tremendous need for Palestinians to express themselves, their frustrations and their hopes,” says Hany Abu-Assad, the director of Omar, the Cannes sensation and DIFF’s opening film. “Their politicians have failed to improve their lives or free them from the occupation and the world has forgotten them even though the situation hasn’t got any better.” Omar is the story of a young Palestinian militant facing tough personal and moral decisions in a life lived under occupation. It won the Special Jury prize in Un Certain Regard at Cannes this year. Short Condom Lead from Gaza-born twins Ahmed and Mohamed Abu Nasser (aka Tarzan and Arab), about a couple trying to make love during an Israeli lockdown of the Gaza Strip, also screened at Cannes. “They were the only two Arab films in Official Selection,” says Jordan-based Palestinian producer Rashid Abdelhamid of arts initiative Made in Palestine Project. Rashid Masharawi’s Ramallah-shot Palestine Stereo, a drama about two brothers attempting to emigrate to Canada, and Rani Massalha’s Giraffada, set against the backdrop of the only zoo in the West Bank, played to critical acclaim at Toronto. Anne-


n 8 Screen International at Dubai December 10, 2013

‘There is something of a film-making scene in Ramallah, but it’s still a miracle when we manage to pull off a production’ May Odeh, producer

marie Jacir’s When I Saw You and Mahdi Fleifel’s documentary A World Not Ours have also been picking up prizes on the festival circuit over the past year. At DIFF, Palestine Stereo is competing in the Muhr Arab feature-length competition alongside Omar, while Condom Lead and Rama Mari’s Izriqaq (Blued) are in the shorts competition. Jinan Coulter’s Searching For Saris and Mais Darwazah’s My Love Awaits Me By The Sea are contenders in the documentary competition. Five Palestinian projects will also be presented at DIFF co-production events. Masharawi’s Gaza D.C., Fleifel’s tragi-comedy Men In The Sun, Firas Khoury’s debut feature The Flag, produced by AbuAssad, and Ghada Terawi’s documentary Forgotten will be presented at Dubai Film Connection. The Nasser twins will present their new Gaza-set feature project Casting in the Interchange programme.

When I Saw You

Condom Lead

Challenge of producing While Palestine’s cinematic reach has expanded, the logistics of pulling together a Palestinian production on either side of the 1948 border have never been harder. “Just because there’s this driving need, that doesn’t make it any easier,” says Abu-Assad. “In fact, it’s more difficult than ever. Beyond the usual financial challenges facing independent film-makers the world over, there’s no infrastructure and being under occupation and not being recognised as a country makes it impossible to build one. My cameraman supplements his income working as a salesman in between films.”

A World Not Ours

ScreenIngS, page 14

He will not be the first Palestinian to do so. Jacir raised some $10,000 via the Dubai-based crowdfunding site Aflamnah, to help roll out the film internationally, and Jinan Coulter pulled in around $20,000 for her documentary Searching For Saris through the same site. “Jinan ran an amazing campaign, reaching out personally to people in her inner and outer circle to get them on board,” says Vida Rizq, the founder of Aflamnah. Ghada Terawi’s Dubai Film Connection project Forgotten, meanwhile, has managed to secure a small amount of support — roughly $20,000 — from national Palestinian TV. “It’s not much. They don’t have huge resources but there’s a realisation that we need to start telling our own stories,” says Terawi.

International investment

“There’s definitely something of a film-making scene in Ramallah at the moment but it’s still sort of a miracle when we manage to pull off a production,” echoes Forgotten producer May Odeh. Earlier this year, Abu-Assad suggested creating an independent Palestinian studio in the vein of Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope in the 1960s. Abu-Assad believes the only way forward for Palestinian cinema is for its citizens to get behind their films. “I’m not nationalistic. I just think it’s important that Palestinians support their film-makers too,” he says. Around 95% of Omar’s budget came from Palestinian sources — mainly the entrepreneurial Zuaiter family and Zahi Khouri, CEO of the Coca-Cola franchise in the West Bank and Gaza — with 5% provided by DIFF’s Enjaaz fund. The challenge now, says Abu-Assad, is recouping the money to encourage other Palestinian financiers. “If we want others to come forward, we need to show some returns,” he says. The producers of Jacir’s When I Saw You were all Palestinian, encouraged by the performance of her previous film Salt Of This Sea. “It was quite special and remarkable, especially as Salt Of This Sea had almost no Arab support,” says Jacir. “They said this was embarrassing and wanted to change things. This approach is absolutely necessary in order to have a truly independent film industry.” Abu-Assad is also considering the possibility of crowd-funding on his next two productions: Khoury’s The Flag and his own film Lamya.

The producers of When I Saw You are all Palestinian. ‘It was quite remarkable, especially as Salt Of This Sea had almost no Arab support’ Annemarie Jacir, film-maker

Most Palestinian film-makers, however, still turn to foreign financiers to make their films, mainly from Europe and increasingly from the Gulf. Massalha’s Giraffada was a Palestine-FranceItaly-Germany co-production between Paris-based Mact Productions, Milan-based Lumiere & Co and Heimatfilm from Munich. Ramallah-based Masharawi’s Palestine Stereo was financed by a long list of backers from seven countries including Gaza Media Centre, France’s Mille et Une Prods, Norway’s Ape & Bjorn, Dubai Entertainment and Media Organisation, Film Market Initiative and Produzione Straordinaria with a host of state and institutional funds including France’s National Cinema Centre, Dubai’s Enjaaz fund and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. “Raising the finance was a long but fruitful job. It took us a year-and-a-half to raise the $1.5m budget,” says Habib Attia of Tunis-based Cinetelefilms, who produced the film alongside Masharawi and Abdel Salam Abu Askar’s Ramallah-based Cinepal. They are all at DIFF. “We do what I call mosaic financing, pulling together as many sources of finance as possible,” Attia explains. “It’s a reality for all independent productions from the region. One of the advantages of working with lots of international partners is they then help raise awareness of the film and support its release in their territories.” French producer Palmyre Badinier — who is based between Ramallah and Paris — is taking a similar approach for her partner Raed Andoni’s next film Ghost Hunting. “We’ve got support from France’s Centre Region and Abu Dhabi’s Sanad and are setting up a co-production between France, Palestine and Switzerland,” she reveals. “It’s taking time but it’s slowly coming together.” Ahmed and Mohamed Abu Nasser and producer Abdelhamid shot their short film Condom Lead on a shoestring in just 24 hours. They are now trying to piece together a budget for their feature Casting with the support of French co-producers Thomas Anargyros and Edouard de Vésinne’s of Paris-based Incognita Films. Being a Palestinian film-maker presents its own unique challenge: as they have Gaza IDs, rather than West Bank, it is impossible for the Nassers and Abdelhamid to meet up with the other Palestinian film-makers in Ramallah or Nazareth. “We meet up at festivals or when they come to Jordan,” says Abdelhamid. DIFF will be an important event for the Pals estinians in attendance in more ways than one. n

New PalestiNiaN Projects

Ghost Hunting

Dir Raed Andoni A docu-drama about a Palestinian prisoner’s interrogation at an Israeli detention centre. Contact Palmyre Badinier

Men In The Sun*

Dir Mahdi Fleifel A black comedy following two illegal Palestinian immigrants trying to survive in Athens. Contact Signe Byrge Sorensen


Dir Hany Abu-Assad A young girl goes in search of her mother who abandoned her family for her lover. Contact Hany Abu-Assad

Gaza D.C.*

Dir Rashid Masharawi A US activist and a Palestinian refugee fall in love in the Gaza Strip. Contact Habib Attia


Dir Ghada Terawi Documentary about Japanese activist Kozo Okamoto, who spent years in Israeli jails for his role in the Lod Airport killings in support of the Palestinian liberation movement. Contact May Odeh


Dir Annemarie Jacir A young Palestinian journalist living in the West Bank must confront her demons. Contact Annemarie Jacir

The Flag*

Dir Firas Khoury Coming-of-age tale about teens who try to swap their school’s Israeli flag with one from Palestine. Contact Hany Abu-Assad h.abuassad@


Dirs Ahmed and Mohamed Abu Nasser A comedy about a director trying to make a film in Gaza, capturing the absurdities of life there. Contact Rashid Abdelhamid

The Eyes Of A Thief

Dir Najwa Najjar A Palestinian man tries to reconnect with his daughter after a decade in Israeli prison. Contact Najwa Najjar

Sharon And My Mother-InLaw

Dir Cherien Dabis Adaptation of Suad Amiry’s wry account of life in Ramallah during the Israeli re-occupation in 2002. Contact Cherien Dabis * Projects presented at DIFF 2012

December 10, 2013 Screen International at Dubai 9 n

The One Man Village

Let the real world in The pilot Dubai Docs programme (Dec 10-12) is turning the spotlight on creative documentaries to help train film-makers in how to pitch and raise the finance for their projects. Louise Tutt reports


s news dispatches report political and social turmoil in various countries in the Arab world with increasing regularity, international commissioning editors and audiences are beginning to yearn for a more nuanced view of life in the region. Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) is responding this year with the launch of Dubai Docs, a pilot initiative with a particular focus on creative, rather than journalistic, documentaries. “We get a lot of creative documentaries but it’s one of the most difficult areas to get funded, not just in the Arab world but in the world of documentary film-making,” says Jane Williams, director of Dubai Film Connection and Forum. “We wanted to create a platform for debate.” The three-day event (December 10-12) will train seven producer-director teams in pitching techniques and give an introduction to the market ahead of the pitching forum on the last day. The aim is to help them find support for their projects by meeting invited documentary professionals from the region as well as Europe and the US. Working with documentary producers and experts Stefano Tealdi and Farida Fdani, the film-makers will receive training in the art of the pitch and the dos and don’ts of pitching, and will get detailed

n 10 Screen International at Dubai December 10, 2013

feedback on both their project and their pitching strategies. The event will also introduce international professionals to the concept of creative documentary film-making in the Arab world and provide an insight into production in the Arab region. “Within this context there are no pitching forums in the Arab world,” says Williams. “We wanted to launch one because it has an enormous educational benefit. It means a large audience gets to understand how commissioning editors make decisions, what kinds of concerns they work with, and how they work. We wanted to make that information available on a much larger level than on a one-to-one meeting basis.” Williams points to Simon El Habre’s awardwinning The One Man Village as the kind of creative documentary the festival is keen to help nurture. The One Man Village, a portrait of a Lebanese village devastated by war where now only one man remains, tending to his animals, won both the Muhr Arab Documentary special jury prize at Dubai in 2008 and also the best international documentary award at Canada’s Hotdocs the next year. DIFF is working with five partner organisations on Dubai Docs: the Arab Fund for Arts & Culture (AFAC), DOCmed, Screen Institute Beirut, Ger-

‘We get a lot of creative documentaries but it is one of the most difficult areas to get funded’ Jane Williams, Dubai Film Connection and Forum

many’s Robert Bosch Foundation and Denmark’s CPH:DOX Lab. Two projects have been selected from each of the first three and one from the Robert Bosch Foundation (see profiles, right). Several observer projects from the other partners will follow the programme but will not pitch; all have Arab directors. The projects from the Robert Bosch Foundation are teamed with German producers while the CPH:DOX Lab projects match Arab directors with European producers. The morning of the forum will see the seven projects pitched to the invited producers, commissioning editors, funders and representatives of non-profit organisations in panels of four. The afternoon will provide two hours of one-to-one meetings. The industry professionals will have their own programme of events over the three days and will be able to meet documentary film-makers from every strand of the festival and market. “We want to create an induction into the Arab world for international industry professionals attending,” says Williams. Palestinian film-maker Hany Abu-Assad, director of DIFF opening film Omar, will give the keynote speech on the day of the pitching forum. His documentary credits s include Nazareth 2000 and Fort Transit. n

DocumEntariES feature

Dubai Docs Projects 2013

Erige Sehiri

Johanna Domke

Marouan Omara

Mohamed Zedan

Mona Lotfy

Soudade Kaadan

Maya Al Khoury

Mary Jirmanus Saba

Ahmed In Wonderland AFAC

I Have A Picture DOCmed

Dir ErigE SEhiri

Dir mohamED ZEDan

Ahmed is a 30-year-old train driver who takes a trip from Tunis to the Algerian border. With music by Pink Floyd and Anouar Brahem playing in the background, Tunisian journalist and documentary film-maker Erige Sehiri gets to know Ahmed, the friends he lost after the revolution and what the future holds in Tunisia for young men like him. The film is produced by Palmyre Badinier through her Parisbased company Les Films de Zayna. Her credits include Raed Andoni’s award-winning documentary Fix Me in 2012. Badinier is also an associate producer for the Palestinian company Dar Film.

Director, writer and producer Mohamed Zedan is a member of Alexandria-based independent production house Fig Leaf Studios. He contributed a segment to the collaborative fiction feature The Mice Room, which was made with support from DIFF’s Enjaaz fund. Zedan’s first feature doc probes the changes in Egyptian society over the past decades through the history of Egyptian cinema. “I Have A Picture deals with the question of marginalisation in art,” Zedan says. “Those who are marginalised have always had different thoughts and ideas from those who formulate the public opinion.”

Producers Palmyre Badinier, Les Films de Zayna Budget $289,500 Finance raised to date $123,500 Contact Palmyre Badinier

Dream Away Robert Bosch Foundation

Producers Mohamed Zedan, Fig Leaf Studios Budget $750,000 Contact Mohamed Zedan mohamed_zedan11@yahoo. com

In Grey Depth DOCmed Dir mona Lotfy

Dir Johanna DomkE, marouan omara German film-maker and visual artist Johanna Domke and Egyptian director Marouan Omara are developing a creative documentary about a group of young Egyptians who leave their home town to travel to the popular tourist resort of Sharm El Sheikh, an artificial place unrecognisable as Egypt to most Egyptians. The trip is their way of dealing with the political, social and economic turmoil experienced by the country. “The title Dream Away encloses both the idea of longing for a different place or a dream that one has given up,” the directors explain. Domke and Omara have previously co-directed the short documentary CROP, which screened at International Film Festival Rotterdam. German producer Roman Roitman of Cologne-based Filmbucht Filmproduktion is producing.

Producers Roman Roitman, Filmbucht Filmproduktion Budget $200,000 Finance raised to date $27,000 Contact Marouan Omara

Through the story of the men who worked in the El Maghara coal mine in the Egyptian desert, Mona Lotfy will tell the story of Egypt itself. How did the miners cope working in complete darkness under the desert? “It is a journey to the heart of the dark that resembles the brutality of the sensory deprivation we are enduring through life,” says Lotfy, making a comparison to the plight of all Egyptians. “How do we sustain this deprivation and pressure without losing our sanity?” Cairo-born Lotfy’s short A Walk In The Grey Sun participated at the Arab Film Festival Rotterdam in 2012.

Budget $136,000 Contact Mona Lotfy

Obscure Screen Institute Beirut Dir SouDaDE kaaDan Soudade Kaadan’s documentary feature Damascus Roof And Tales Of Paradise won the Muhr Arab Documentary award at DIFF in 2010. Her new film is an exploration of the answers to questions that emerge at times of war. How can people carry

on after seeing such brutal images? Obscure is being produced by Beirut-based KAF Production Company, the outfit set up by the Syrian-born, Lebanon-based Kaaden and her sister, Amira.

Producers Amira Kaadan, KAF Production Company Budget $68,000 Finance raised to date $11,800 Contact Amira Kaadan

Taste Of Revolution AFAC Dir maya aL khoury Syrian director Maya Al Khoury wants her debut documentary feature to bear witness to the struggle for freedom in Syrian. She follows five young activists in hiding or exile as they go about their daily lives. They are lives Al Khoury has become a part of as she points out the film itself is only possible due to the ongoing struggle that has liberated her to create a political project worthy of the Syrian people. Taste Of Revolution is produced by Syrian-born Charif Kiwan of Paris-based Abounaddara Films, in which Al Khoury is also a partner.

Producers Charif Kiwan, Abounaddara Films Budget $175,000 Finance raised to date $60,000 Contact Charif Kiwan

Waiting For Dawn Screen Institute Beirut

Dir mary JirmanuS Saba Saba’s debut feature charts the story of 19-year-old Fatima Khaweja, who was killed by the Lebanese army during a peaceful protest at Beirut’s Gandour chocolate factory in 1972. Her story is almost forgotten now, but 40 years ago her death sparked a dynamic social-justice movement in Lebanon. Saba, whose short documentary films have screened at international festivals, looks at how the country’s 20-year civil war erased Fatima and her legacy from the national memory and the possibilities for social change today.

Budget $20,000 Finance raised to date $20,000 Contact Mary Jirmanus Saba

December 10, 2013 Screen International at Dubai 11 n

Screen International will publish its market-leading dailies at the European Film Market

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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 ask the film-makers for the stories behind the pitches

Mahdi Fleifel

Faiza Ambah

Maryam Jum’a

Men In The Sun

A Reverence For Spiders

The True Story Behind Me

Dir Mahdi Fleifel

Dir Faiza Ambah

Dir Maryam Jum’a

Timely tragi-comedy Men In The Sun is about two Palestinian friends who have just arrived in Athens, after a difficult clandestine journey from Lebanon. The pair, Qassim and Abu Love, are full of hope but soon discover life in the Greek capital at the height of an economic crisis is not easy. When distant cousin Shadi runs off with their money, they resort to scavenging, prostitution and petty crime to survive. Men In The Sun is the first feature-length fiction feature for Dubai-born, Palestinian film-maker Mahdi Fleifel. His credits include the feature documentary A World Not Ours about the Palestinian refugee camp Ain Al Hilweh in Lebanon, where he spent part of his childhood before moving to Denmark. The critically acclaimed documentary — recalling the summers he spent there as a child and revolving around the divergent fate of his best friend Abu Eyad who cannot get out of the camp — played at several festivals across the world including Toronto and Berlin, where it won the Peace Film Prize. “The condition of exile and how to portray it on the screen is my main concern in Men In The Sun,” says Fleifel, who graduated from the UK’s National Film and Television School in 2009. “The feeling of exile is that of solitude. Only an exile really knows this feeling, almost transcendental in form, but he or she rarely has the ability to describe it,” says Fleifel. “I want to examine emotional isolation in a world where war, peace and God have become abstract notions. My characters are drifters living at the end of the world.” The feature is co-produced by London-based Nakba Filmworks, the production company Fleifel set up in 2010 with Irish-born producer Patrick Campbell, with Danish producer Signe Byrge Sorensen’s Final Cut For Real.

Faiza Ambah was one of Saudi Arabia’s first female journalists and is a former Persian Gulf correspondent for The Washington Post. She 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 daughters to New York so his wife can have fertility treatment in an attempt to bear him a son. But his desire for a boy begins to overpower the family, driving a wedge between him, his wife and rebellious eldest daughter. 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. “The characters are seen from an outsider’s perspective but are never judged or condoned. I also want to reclaim the iconic images of Islam from newspaper headlines, depicting them in a more intimate and spiritual context.” SilverGrey Picture & Sound, the first fully fledged production house in Saudi Arabia, is producing Reverence. Ambah is co-directing the film with Karim Bensalah, who she met on the Rawi-Sundance Screenwriters Lab. Bensalah has directed several short films including Fatima’s Secret, which was shown in competition at Clermont-Ferrand in 2004. Ambah has also received Enjaaz funds for short film Mariam, which she plans to shoot in France, where she is now based.

The debut feature project from Jordan-born Maryam Jum’a is a 60-minute animated documentary about a young Jordanian artist called Manal, who is convinced she is a man trapped in a woman’s body. Two years in a marriage with no physical intimacy had prompted Manal to see a psychologist. A history of child molestation dating back to when she was four years old is revealed, a memory completely repressed by Manal for decades. The film’s subject is the subsequent unravelling of what happened and the trauma Manal has experienced. It is all set against the backdrop of Manal’s preparation of an art exhibition in Lebanon. “Manal takes us on a personal journey,” says Jum’a. “She shares her lowest moments in life, revealing her physical and psychological illness from gender identity disorder to borderline personality disorder through each art piece she creates, while battling for acceptance from a judgmental society.” The project is being produced by Michael Bogar and Inka Dewitz’s Berlin-based Perfect Shot Films. The company has a mandate to focus on passionate and challenging issues, something that chimed with Jum’a. “The True Story Behind Me shows the dark and hidden world of sexual molestation, a story of breaking the silence and speaking out,” she explains. “This film examines all these aspects so we can bring this dark subject into the light and potentially raise awareness of this often-neglected topic in Jordanian society and the Arab world. Unfortunately this issue is regarded as the ultimate taboo and never discussed openly.” Previous credits for Jum’a include a short documentary for the Jordanian Royal Film Commission called She The Policeman, about the personal journey of a traffic policewoman.

Men In The Sun

A Reverence For Spiders

The True Story Behind Me

Producer Signe Byrge Sorensen Production company Final Cut For Real Budget $1m Contact Signe Byrge Sorensen

Producers Silvio Saade, Willy Friedman Production company SilverGrey Picture & Sound Budget $1.5m Finance raised to date $150,000 Contact Silvio Saade

Producers Michael Bogar, Inka Dewitz Production company Perfect Shot Films Budget $120,000 Contact Inka Dewitz December 10, 2013 Screen International at Dubai 13 ■


» Screening times and venues are correct at the time of going to press but subject to alteration

edited by Paul Lindsell

burying them in the sand.


Muhr emirati MOe 5

MAnDeLA: LOng WALK TO FreeDOM PreSS Screening

girL & iT

(UAE) 40mins. Adventure, drama, fantasy, romance. Dir: Mohammad Fikree. Cast: Sophia Jawad, Muneer Al Huseini, Abdulla Al Suwaidi, Saud Al Hazzani, Mohammad Fikree. A hunter sets out to capture a horned beast and prove himself worthy to his father.

(South Africa) 147mins. Biography, drama, historical. Dir: Justin Chadwick. Cast: Tony Kgoroge, Jamie Bartlett, Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Riaad Moosa. Celebration of Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary journey. cinema of Asia Africa MOe 7

Muhr emirati MOe 5

12:00 cAMPAign 2

(Japan, US) 149mins. Documentary. Dir: Kazuhiro Soda. Cast: Kazuhiko Yamauchi, Sayuri Yamauchi, Yuki Yamauchi. In response to the Fukushima disaster, Yama-san runs an election campaign with an antinuclear message. However, with no funds, it seems unlikely he stands a chance of winning. Muhr Asia Africa Documentary MOe 9

12:15 gUArDiAnS OF TiMe LOST

(Lebanon, UAE) 109min. Dir: Diala Kachmar. A group of marginalised young men, the thugs of Al Lija, reflect the chaos that characterises their Beirut neighbourhood. Muhr Arab Documentary MOe 11

THe UgLY One

(France, Japan, Lebanon) 101mins. Drama. Dir: Eric Baudelaire. Cast: Juliette Navis, Rabih Mroue, Rodney El Haddad, Fadi Abi Samrar. On a Beirut beach, littered with washed-up cans, Lili and Michel meet. As they struggle to piece together the fragments of an uncertain past, memories begin to emerge. Arabian nights MOe 5

12:30 BiDeSiA in BAMBAi

(India) 87mins. Doc, musical, Social. Dir:


Festival 15:15 THOU giLD’ST THe eVen

(Turkey) 107mins. Drama, Fantasy. Dir: Onur Ünlü. Cast: Ali Atay, Demet Evgar, Damla Sanmez, Ercan Kesal, Ezgi Mola, Serkan Keskin. The ordinary sorrows, Surabhi Sharma. Muhr Asia Africa Documentary MOe 10


worries and troubles of a group of Anatolian townsmen with extraordinary abilities. Cemal can see through walls, Yasemin works can move objects and Defne can freeze time. Muhr Asia Africa Feature MOe 7

Muhr emirati MOe 8

DOn’T LeAVe Me

(UAE) 13mins. Drama. Dir: Khalid Al Mahmood. Cast: Meera Al Midfa, Saeed Mohammed, Fatima Al Taei, Abdullah Aljunaibi. Layla and Aisha, in their early twenties, first met when they were at school. Layla is now on the verge of losing her eyesight while Aisha is on medication to prevent her from losing her

n 14 Screen International at Dubai December 10, 2013

celebration of indian cinema MOe 2

15:00 AnT STOrY

Muhr emirati MOe 8

(Bangladesh) 93mins. Comedy, drama. Dir: Mostofa Sarwar Farooki. Cast: Noor Imran Mithu, Sheena Chohan, Sabbir Hasan Likhon. Every day on the way back to his suburban home, Mithu, a struggling young graduate, looks towards the dazzling city of Dhaka. As he feels he has no chance of being a part of that world, he embarks on a journey of fakery, lies and fantasy.


Muhr Asia Africa Feature MOe 1

memories. While they don’t recognise each other, they share a connection. Muhr emirati MOe 8


(UAE) 18mins. Psychodrama. Dir: Eisa Al Sabousi. Cast: Amer Al Kamel, Fatima Al Taei. Highlights the struggles of Mariam, a young wife and mother. As her arguments with her husband continue, she discovers a deeper reason behind her marital woes.

Unni, a talented but troubled drummer, is drawn to dancer Nalini with a force that transcends their devotion to the arts.


(UAE) 10mins. Drama. Dir: Hamad Al Hammadi. Cast: Khadija Al Taii, Mohamed Garoon.

(UAE) 23mins. Film noir. Dir: Abdullah Aljunaibi, Humaid Alawadi. Cast: Humaid Alawadi. A man finds himself on a beach after a tragic accident. He begins the search for his son… Muhr emirati MOe 8

14:00 THe VOiDing SOUL

(India) 146mins. Fiction. Dir: Shaji N Karun. Cast: Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Jayaram, Kadambari, Siddique, Aswani Ranga, Vineeth.

(UAE) 18mins. Romantic Comedy. Dir: Alwiya Thani. Cast: Courtney Long, Amir Bezad, Marwan Dj Bliss Al Awadhi, Ric Renton, Mylene Gomera. Faith and Paul have been unlucky in love, until Paul’s sister, Jen, and their friend Ahmed, plan an elaborate series of events to restore their faith in love. Muhr emirati MOe 5


(Jordan, Germany, Palestine, Qatar) 80min. Dir: Mais Darwazah. Cast: Mais Darwazah. Follows the director’s journey as she returns to Palestine, exploring it through the poems and drawings of Palestinian artist Hasan Horani. Muhr Arab Documentary MOe 8


(UK) 93mins. Drama. Dir: Clio Barnard. Cast: Sean Glider, Shaun Thomas, Conner Chapman. cinema of the World MOe 6


(UAE) 20mins. Drama. Dir: Mustafa Abbas. Cast: Brent Jenkins, Mustafa Abbas, Brooke Butterworth, Ibrahim Al Khemairi, Jane Meikle, Balqis Hindash. Muhr emirati MOe 5


(UAE) 10mins. Fantasy, experimental, video art. Dir: Muna Al Ali. Cast: Helal Khadar Saif, Ali Naser Al Yaqobi. A boy copes with the pressures of life by screaming into bottles and

THOU giLD’ST THe eVen See box, above

15:30 MY reD SHOeS

(France) 80mins. Family. Dir: Sara Rastegar. Cast: Panthea Kian, Roxana

Rastegar, Ava Rastegar, Fariba Rastegar, Kaveh Rastegar, Azita Fariva Sadri, Guita Fariva Sadri. Muhr Asia Africa Documentary MOe 10

SeArcHing FOr SAriS

(Palestine, UAE) 72mins. Dir: Jinan Coulter. Muhr Arab Documentary MOe 11


(Lebanon) 75mins. Drama. Dir: Tarek Korkomaz, Zeina Makki, Jad Beyrouthy, Christelle Ighniades, Salim Haber, Maria Abdel Karim, Naji Bechara. Cast: Carmen Lebbos, Nada Abou Farhat, Carole Abboud, Takla Chamoun, Diamand Abou Abboud, Talal El Jordi, Elie Mitri, Rodrigue Suleiman, Julian Farhat, Latifeh Moultaka, Antoine Moultaka, Laura Khabbaz, Samer El Achy. Muhr Arab Feature MOe 12


(France) 78mins. Documentary. Dir: Axel Salvatori-Sinz. The Shebabs are a group of teenagers, who have known each other since they were children. On the eve of adulthood, they are faced with tough choices. Arabian nights MOe 9

16:30 THe SecreT LiFe OF WALTer MiTTY

(US) 114mins. Adventure, comedy, drama. Dir: Ben Stiller. Cast: Ben Stiller, Sean Penn, Kathryn Hahn, Adam Scott, Shirley MacLaine, Kristen Wiig. Story of an ordinary office worker who escapes his anonymous life by daydreaming about adventure, heroism and romance. cinema of the World Madinat Arena

18:00 AL LAiLAH

(UAE) 25mins. Comedy, drama. Dir: Khalid Ali.

Further DIFF coverage, See

Cast: Razika Al Taresh, Moza Al Mazroei. Focuses on one Emirati family as they prepare for the children’s festival, Hag Al Lailah, and explores their joys and sorrows. Muhr Emirati MOE 2


(UAE) 19mins. Drama. Dir: Ali Mostafa. Cast: Nitin Mirani, Diala Makki, Ahmed Abdullah, Jasmin Ruhling, Nour Aldin Alyousuf. Muhr Emirati MOE 2

Atta Nasser, Iman Aoun. Yassine and his mother try to hide their crime, in what they thought would be an easy cover-up. Muhr Arab Short MOE 10


(Iraq, UK, Hungary) 10mins. Animation, drama, family, war. Dir: Meedo Ali. Cast: Saif Salh. In an Iraqi orphanage, a victim of the war expresses his anguish through a series of drawings. Muhr Arab Short, Iraqi Legacy: Children of Future MOE 10


(Egypt, UAE) 92mins. Drama, romance, social. Dir: Mohamed Khan. Cast: Yasmine Raees, Hani Adel, Salwa Khatab, Salwa Mohammad Ali, Ibtihal Elserety. The story of forbidden love as a factory worker falls for her supervisor. Muhr Arab Feature MOE 6


(UAE) 24mins. Drama, comedy. Dir: Nayla Al Khaja. Cast: Crystal Bates, Moza Al Mazroei, Safia Al Mansouri. Muhr Emirati MOE 2


(France, Senegal) 82mins. Drama. Dir: Dyana Gaye. Cast: Ralph Amoussou, Mareme Demba Ly, Souleymane Seye N’diaye, Babacar M’baye Fall, Mata Gabin. Muhr Asia Africa Feature MOE 1

18:15 1001 APPLES

(Iraq) 74mins. Dir: Taha Karimi. Cast: Faraj Mouhamad Aziz, Hashim Mouhamad Rashid, Ababakar Ali Said, Ghahar Khalil Mouhamad.


Muhr Arab Feature MOE 12


(Algeria, UAE, Netherlands) 86mins. Documentary. Dir: Abdenour Zahzah.

Maraa Florencia Alvarez. Cast: Martina Juncadella, Martin Slipak.

Social. Dir: Ahmed Yassin. Cast: Amir Hadi, Hawara Alkhuza.

Arabian Nights MOE 8

Muhr Arab Short, Iraqi Legacy: Children of Future MOE 10



(Morocco) 85mins. Social, action, drama. Dir: Hicham Lasri. Cast: Yahya El Fandi, Imad Fijaj, Jalal Bouftaim.

(Morocco) 24mins. Film noir, mystery, psychodrama, video essay. Dir: Yassine Marco Marroccu. Cast: Driss Roukhe, Amal Ayouch.

Muhr Arab Feature MOE 6


(China, Hong Kong) 133mins. Action, crime. Dir: Tsui Hark. Cast: Mark Chao, Angelababy, William Feng, Carina Lau, Lin Gengxin. Detective Dee investigates reports of a sea monster.

(Iraq, Italy) 14mins. Drama. Dir: Haider Rashid. Cast: Mohamed Zouaoui.

Muhr Arab Documentary MOE 11

Muhr Arab Short MOE 10


Cinema of Asia Africa MOE 2


(UK) 89mins. Documentary. Dir: Havana Marking. The most successful jewel thieves of all time — in their own words.


(Lebanon, France) 20mins. Creative documentary, video art. Dir: Ali Cherri. Muhr Arab Short MOE 10


(Palestine, Tunisia, France, Norway, UAE, Italy, Switzerland) 90mins. Drama, Fiction. Dir: Rashid Masharawi. Cast: Areen Omari, Salah Hannoun, Mahmoud Abu Jazi, Maysa Abdul Hadi. Muhr Arab Feature Souk Madinat Theatre


(India, US) 84mins. Docudrama. Dir: Deepti Kakkar, Fahad Mustafa. Muhr Asia Africa Documentary MOE 7


Arabian Nights MOE 5

(Belgium, France, Germany) 78mins. Comedy. Dir: Marion Hansel. Cast: Olivier Gourmet, Marilyne Canto, Sergi Lopez.


Cinema of the World MOE 8

(Palestine, Norway, Qatar) 20mins. Drama. Dir: Rama Mari. Cast:

95mins. Drama. Dir: Amor Hakkar. Cast: Nabil Asli, Toufik Mezaache, Hichem Berdouk, Zineb Ahmidou, Anya Louanchi. Ali, a taxi driver in Algeria, and his wife, Houria, are unable to have children. When he travels to another city to test his fertility, he is accused by Fatima, a pregnant woman, of being the father of her unborn child.


(Algeria, France, UAE)


Cinema of the World MOE 9


(UK) 101mins. Documentary. Dir: Mark Cousins. Cast: Mark Cousins. A movie about children in global cinema. Cinema for Children Burj Park


(South Africa) 147mins. Biography, drama, historical. Dir: Justin Chadwick. Cast: Tony Kgoroge, Jamie Bartlett, Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Riaad Moosa. Celebration of Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary journey. Cinema of Asia Africa Madinat Arena

(Australia) 85mins. Documentary. Dir: Gracie Otto. Cast: Naomi Watts, Yoko Ono, Anna Wintour, Kate Moss, John Cleese. Documentary on Michael White, the playboy and bon vivant London theatre and film impresario. Cinema of the World MOE 1


Muhr Arab Short MOE 10


(Norway, Syria) 11mins. Drama. Dir: Hisham Al Zouki. Cast: Victor Al Zouki, Firas Fayyad, Mia Larsen, Hedda Al Zouki. Muhr Arab Short MOE 10


(Tunisia) 61mins. Documentary. Dir: Nasredine Ben Maati. Cast: Skander Ben Hamda, Azyz Amami, Slim Amamou. Arabian Nights MOE 5


Reporter Nandita Dutta Reporter Melanie Goodfellow melanie. Reporter Pashma Manglani pashma.manglani@ Reviews editor Mark Adams +44 7834 902 528 mark.adams@ DIFF Young Journalist Award mentor 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, Serene Makarem, Gina Taylor


(Lebanon, UAE) 96mins. Biography. Dir: Philippe Aractingi. The director explores his family’s displacement through war over the generations.

Muhr Arab Short MOE 10

(UAE) 71mins. Comedy, horror, mystery. Dir: Ahmed Zain. Cast: Saeed Al Sharyani, Khalid Alnuaimi, Yaser Alneyadi.

Muhr Arab Documentary MOE 12


Gulf Voices MOE 11

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Muhr Arab Feature Souk Madinat Theatre




(Egypt) 68min. Dir: Salma El Tarzi.

(Argentina, Brazil) 91mins. Drama. Dir:

(Iraq, UK, Hungary) 10mins. Drama, Family,

Muhr Arab Documentary MOE 9


Group head of production and art Mark Mowbray mark.mowbray@

Muhr Asia Africa Documentary MOE 7


(Syria, Lebanon, Qatar) 97mins. Drama, romance. Dir: Mohamed Malas. Cast: Gianna Aanid, Bilal Martini, Najla El Wazza.

DIFF dailies editor and Asia editor Liz Shackleton


(Singapore) 70mins. Doc. Dir: Pin Pin Tan.

(France) 26mins. Family, fiction. Dir: Myriam Chetouane. Cast: Ouidad Elma, Linda Chaib Prevot, Sabrina Boudaoud, Salim Kechiouche. Algerian Dalila lives in the suburbs of Paris. She needs money to help her mother repatriate her father’s body.


DIFF editorial office Press and publicity office, Madinat Jumeirah Conference Centre +971 56 212 6011

in association with Chime Consulting

December 10, 2013 Screen International at Dubai 15 n


brought to you by DIFF


‘You can’t change who you are’ Through a film such as FRUITVALE STATION, non-Americans particularly, are reminded of the reality of race relations in the United States. Even though the country has elected its first African-American president and there are plenty of powerful and successful African-Americans in the arts and entertainment, these are still incidents like Oscar Grant or Trayvon Martin… How can film help better that reality? MBJ: Cinema is so important to storytelling and understanding people’s perspectives. I always

believe in hiding the medicine in the food, or in this case hiding a message in a film or art can help people receive it better. A hard-hitting documentary, even if it’s real, might not be easy to digest, but a fiction film has the potential to reach out to a larger audience, I think. It’s really all about getting people to treat people who are different from you, without judging.

How would you describe the reality of race relations in the United States today? MBJ: The reality, well, that’s a loaded question. Here’s the thing, I say black. So black president,

black cast, black people. There’s always going to be racism. It’s not going anywhere.

Ever? Actor Michael B. Jordan has starred in popular television dramas (The Wire, Friday Night Lights), is making regular appearances in ‘Actors to Watch’ lists and wants to try and build a career that balances working in films with a message, such as FRUITVALE STATION, along with the big films such as CHRONICLE. We caught up with the 26-year-old ahead of his film’s gala screening last night.

You’ve made a pretty impressive leap from television to film. In today’s world of entertainment, where the lines between film and television crisscross, do you see yourself ever returning to TV? Michael B. Jordan: Listen, the internet changed everything. The lines between film and television

are going back and forth. The scripts and pace on TV are sometimes more interesting than in film, and you see a lot of actors working in TV to satisfy their creative itch, their hunger. If the right show came my way, I’d go back. It’s where I started and would love to produce great TV.

MBJ: Ever. One can only hope that incidents like Oscar Grant, or Trayvon Martin don’t happen. We need, as a society, to value our own lives. Black on black violence needs to reduce and it’s only through film and art that we can chip away on our thinking habits. My job, I believe is to try and make things easier.

The Middle East and its people, in the wake of 9/11, have had and continue to experience racial profiling. What would you say to young men and women from the region on dealing with stereotyping? MBJ: On being different? It’s unfortunate that people are ignorant. I wish I could give them a

single solution, but the truth is there isn’t any one thing. You can’t change who you are. You shouldn’t. You can’t change the colour of your skin (long pause). Don’t let it affect your spirit. Keep your heart pure and everything will work itself out. I realise it’s easier said than done, but you have to understand that it’s the actions of a few that are creating these stereotypes. That’s unfortunate, but you can’t be bitter about it. If you handle it wrong as an individual, then your actions are setting an entire group of people behind.

BLURRING CREATIVE BORDERS While the markets they cater to may be completely different, creatively, the line between video art and cinematic film is no longer as clear as it once was. Panelists on Monday touched on the intersection of visual art and film as well as the difficulties for artists to finance their projects. The case studies were presented as part of the Moving Images initiative, which marks a partnership between DIFF, Sharjah Art Foundation and Art Dubai. Film has become a popular medium for artists with an increasing amount of film-based works being exhibited at events like the Sharjah Biennial. “Cinema has a wider audience than contemporary art. By mixing the two, you attract audiences who might be interested in one but learn about something else,” said President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, Sheikha Hoor Al-Qasimi. The foundation has awarded grants through its Production Programme to filmmakers like Mario Rizzi and Sean Gullette, whose films THE WAITING and TRAITORS are being screened at DIFF 2013. However, it is “an expensive medium to play in,” noted Claudia Cellini, co-founder and director, The Third Line. She explained that it can be challenging for galleries to have the right set-up to do justice for an artist’s film since it requires the specific projection and audio requirements. Gullette agreed, explaining that art films are not at all “the safe space” many might think it to be. He said that filming TRAITORS was a “difficult and challenging experience” made on a micro-budget. In fact, he said their lead actress often had to change in a car covered by tarp in the streets of Tangiers. The Moving Images partnership aims to increase access to and the understanding of artists’ films; support artists and film-makers from the Arab world through new opportunities; and debate existing and future models for funding and distribution through the UAE and beyond. “It really is about sharing expertise,” said Antonia Carver, a programmer at the festival and director at Art Dubai. “What’s come out today is that both the art world and the film world are looking to reach a wider audience.” According to her, the initiative, which is a first in the Arab world, will help in the exchange of ideas among experts from both sides. Moving Images will continue throughout the year, with screenings in Dubai and Sharjah, and with specially-curated programmes at the Sharjah Art Foundation.

n 16 Screen International at Dubai December 10, 2013

LOK OUT FOR THE UGLY ONE Dir: Eric Baudelaire

THE WAITING Dir: Mario Rizzi

TODAY at 12:15 MoE 5

Dec 12 at 18:45 MoE 6

TRAITORS Dir: Sean Gullette

STABLE UNSTABLE Dir: Mahmoud Hojeij

Dec 11 at 15:30 MoE 8

Dec 11 at 18:30 MoE 11

MANDELA: AN IMPORTANT LEGACY As a mark of respect following the passing of the former South African president and iconic leader Nelson Mandela, tonight’s screening of MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM is in memory of Mandela. Nashen Moodley, director of DIFF’s AsiaAfrica programme, talks to us about the great man and the film.

As a South African, Nashen, tonight’s screening of MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM must be particularly poignant for you. Nashen Moodley: It is. I was 12-years-old when Mandela was released from prison. At the time, I didn’t have a complex understanding of the political events, however, I do remember there being a sort of trepidation of what was going to happen. But in his first speech, he spoke about reconciliation, peace and forgiveness and set the tone of South Africa’s immediate future. Over the next four years, before the first democratic election, the atmosphere was still tense and there were many moments when many observers thought the peace process was in severe danger, but with Mandela leading the way, South Africa made a peaceful transition to democracy.

Mandela is one of the most iconic leaders of our time and has inspired many young leaders. What can audiences take away from the film? NM: The film, while dealing with Mandela’s life from childhood

to his eventual election as South Africa’s president, touches on the key moments of his life, both political and personal that ended up shaping his legacy. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, an inspiring film with really wonderful performances that give us a complex portrait of a dynamic and charismatic hero, who transcended cultures.

Have you ever met him? NM: No, I’ve never met him, but I was at a youth conference

in Durban in the early 1990s, in which he addressed us. I was very moved and inspired by his speech that reminded us of our responsibilities as the future leaders of the nation.


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. TODAY at 12:00 MoE 9

GUARDIANS OF TIME LOST Dir: Diala Kachmar A group of young men terrorise a Beirut neighbourhood. The world of these thugs reveals the complexities of Lebanon’s social and political reality.

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 12:15 MoE 11

TODAY at 14:00 MoE 2

THE SHEBABS OF YARMOUK Dir: Axel Salvatori-Sinz As an observational documentary, the film illustrates the daily life, struggles, and aspirations of Palestinians and captures the contradictions of Palestinian life: having no country but being bound by bureaucracy and history.

THE RIVER Dir: Abdenour Zahzah Filmed along the 60 kilometres of the Oued El Kebir River, the film presents a lesser known side of Algeria.

TODAY at 16:00 MoE 9

TODAY at 18:30 MoE 11

December 10, 2013 Screen International at Dubai 17 n

Screen Dubai Day 5  
Screen Dubai Day 5