Wednesday, October 19 : The Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF) presents the world premiere of Nawaf Al-Janahi’s highly anticipated new film Sea Shadow. The first film by an Emirati director to be produced by the Abu Dhabi-based company ImageNation, Sea Shadow is the latest of a growing number of feature-length films made in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Al-Janahi’s film is set in a small seaside town in Ras Al Khaimah and follows teenagers Mansour and Kaltham as they struggle with traditions and conventions on their journey toward adulthood. In this charmingly low-key follow-up to his debut feature The Circle, Al-Janahi combines a nostalgic feel for a simpler time with genuine cultural insight. Tonight’s Gala Screening of Sea Shadow takes place at the Abu Dhabi Theater, 9:30 p.m.
Documentary fans will enjoy this afternoon’s special event featuring the intrepid producer/director Fredi Devas, who spent years working in the BBC’s Frozen Planet series, before moving on to his new project, the BBC series Wild Arabia. In From the Freezer to the Furnacethe veteran documentary filmmaker shares his experiences filming in both Polar Regions and now in the deserts of Arabia. Co-presented by Image Nation and Abu Dhabi Film Commission, this event starts at 2:30 p.m. at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr’s Saker Ballroom A.
Today’s lineup also features an Italian-themed double bill, which brings together renowned Italian director Nanni Moretti’s new film Habemus Papam! with the The Wholly Family, a beautifully crafted short film full of imaginative surprises, set in Naples and directed by former Monty Python Terry Gilliam (Brazil, 12 Monkeys).
In Habemus Papam! – Latin for “We have a Pope!” – Moretti imagines with comedy and pathos what happens if the chosen man does not want the job. When Cardinal Melville (Michel Piccoli) refuses to address the Catholic faithful as their new spiritual leader, a psychiatrist (Moretti) is rushed in, but is the new Pope’s problem more serious than nerves?
Prof. Alessandra Priante, Cultural Attachéfor the Gulf Area, Embassy of Italy in Abu Dhabi: "Nanni Moretti expresses the best of European cinema, delivering amazing Italian stories with a very personal touch to international audiences. We strongly believe in what ADFF is doing in the region, allowing a very important window for Arab filmmakers to both show their works and relate to the best of international cinema. You need these moments - both here and in Dubai - to continue nurturing a growing crowd of Arab talents."
This double bill is screened at the Abu Dhabi Theater, 6:15 p.m.
Tonight the Festival is also pleased to present one of the highlights of its out-of-competition lineup this year: the UAE premiere of Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 masterpiece Wild Strawberries. Part of this year’s Spotlight on Sweden, the film centers on an egotistical professor who is forced to reevaluate his life during a long car ride across Sweden when the hitchhikers he picks up trigger daydreams and nightmares of his own troubled past. Considered by many as one of the most poignant expressions of a man reflecting on his own life and mortality ever captured on film, Wild Strawberries is showing tonight at VOX 4, 9:30 p.m.
Today’s Waterfront Film is The Temple, marking the penultimate screening at the popular new open-air cinema introduced by the Festival this year. Directed by Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni, The Temple tells the story of a forgotten village in Maharashtra that gets swept up in the idea of becoming a glittering city when a local herdsman has a divine vision inspiring him to build a huge temple. This nuanced satire on Indian modernization plays at 7:30 p.m., Fairmont Beach. Tickets are free of charge and are available online as well as at all Festival Box Offices.
Also part of the Showcase section, Seated by the Fire, by acclaimed Chilean director Alejandro Fernández Almendras, is a deceptively simple story. Daniel holds many jobs, but the one that truly defines him is his role as caregiver for his wife, Alejandra. As they embark on a new life as farmers in the countryside, Alejandra’s illness slowly puts her husband’s love and patience to the test. This screening begins at 6:45 p.m., VOX 6.
Glenn Close stars in Albert Nobbs, a fascinating look at Victorian gender roles through modern eyes. Albert Nobbs, a butler in Dublin’s most luxurious hotel, is a slight, achingly shy man who hides an incredible secret: Albert is a woman. When a handsome painter arrives at the hotel, Albert is finally tempted to shed his disguise. Albert Nobbs screens tonight at VOX 6, 9:15 p.m.
The Narrative Competition continues with a screening of Always Brando, by Tunisian director Ridha Behi. Inspired by meeting the actor Anis Raache, a Marlon Brando lookalike, Behi wrote a script casting both actors. Against all odds, Brando agreed to work on the project in 2004, but he died shortly after. Always Brando is at once a loving elegy to cinema and a meditation on the cruelty of the film world, screened at 8:15 p.m. at VOX 1.
Rampart, also in the Narrative Competition, is a bracing look at one cop's personal crisis within the LAPD’s infamous Rampart division in the late ‘90s. Oren Moverman brings nuanced visuals to the tale of a bad cop realizing it’s too late to change for the better. Rampart, starring Woody Harrelson supported by Steve Buscemi, Sigourney Weaver and Robin Wright, was co-written by Moverman and crime-fiction legend James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential). VOX 5, 9:00 p.m.
Today’s screenings also include two contenders in the Documentary Competition. Beijing Besieged by Waste follows photographer Wang Jiu-liang as he travels to more than 500 landfills, fearlessly documenting Beijing’s unholy cycle of consumption through poignant observational visits with the scavengers who live and work in the dumps. A sobering meditation on one of humanity’s gravest issues, Beijing Besieged by Wasteis screened tonight at VOX 1, 8:45 p.m.
Diaries, by Palestinian director May Odeh, is an inspiring and introspective documentary about three young women resisting a double siege in Gaza: both as Palestinians and as women, they have a lot to fight for and against. Focusing on the personal over the political, Diaries finds graciousness and hope in a city that many call hell. VOX 8, 7:00 p.m.
This evening, the Our World Competition presents Taste the Waste, a shocking but hopeful documentary exposing the surprising causes and consequences of global food waste by talking to supermarket managers, farmers, inspectors, food bank workers and bureaucrats – and plenty of heaping dumpsters. Taste the Waste plays at 6:15 p.m., VOX 4.
The second edition of Mapping Subjectivity, Experimentation in Arab Cinema from the 1960s to Now, concludes with a special screening of Yousry Nasrallah’s 1999 award winnerElMadina.The film follows Ali, a frustrated butcher’s assistant who heads for Paris to become an actor only to end up as a boxer in rigged fights. Nasrallah’s blending of styles (melodrama and musical numbers to depict Cairo, neorealist grit for Paris) makes for a film as amiable as its hero.Screening at 6:00 p.m., VOX 3.
The Festival’s retrospective Mahfouz – Man of Cinema continues today with Kamal El Sheikh’s classic The Thief and the Dogs (1962). A combination of film noir and social commentary, the film tells the story of an ex-con bent on vengeance and easily driven to violence in his desperation to even the score, culminating an a terrific cat-and-mouse finale. The Thief and the Dogs is screened at 9:00 p.m., VOX 3.
Today, the Emirates Film Competition focuses on short narratives, presenting a program of six short films made by producers from the GCC countries. This section of the Festival offers a chance to see the latest films from a new generation of regional filmmakers. EFC 2 Short Narratives 2 is screened at 3:00 p.m., VOX 4.
The Short Film Competition continues today with two programs of 9 films each, taking the audience on a cinematic journey around the world.Shorts Program 3 plays at 6:30 p.m. and Shorts Program 4 is at 9:30 p.m., both at VOX 2.
ABOUT THE FESTIVAL
The Abu Dhabi Film Festival (formerly the Middle East International Film Festival) was established in 2007, with the aim of helping to create a vibrant film culture throughout the region. Presented each October by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) under the patronage of H.E. Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, the event is committed to curating exceptional programs to engage and educate the local community, inspire filmmakers and nurture the growth of the regional film industry.
With its commitment to presenting works by Arab filmmakers in competition alongside those by major talents of world cinema, the Festival offers Abu Dhabi’s diverse and enthusiastic audiences a means of engaging with their own and others’ cultures through the art of cinema. At the same time, a strong focus on the bold new voices of Arab cinema connects with Abu Dhabi’s role as a burgeoning cultural capital in the region and marks the Festival as a place for the world to discover and gauge the pulse of recent Arab filmmaking.
ADFF 2011 is made possible in part through the generous support of its partners: MAKE UP FOR EVER (Principal Partner); Jaeger-LeCoultre and Emirates Motor Company/Mercedes-Benz (Major Partners); Etihad Airways, VOX Cinemas, TwoFour54, YahLive, Blackberry and Abu Dhabi Media (Official Partners); CNN, Radio 1, Radio 2, OSN, MUBI, Synaxis Media and Variety (Media Partners) and Masdar (Our World Partner).