Dubai International Film Festival’s (DIFF) has revealed the line-up for The Arabian Nights Programme, one the most popular strands at the festival.
The first line up of this year’s Arabian Nights selection is full of culturally-rich narratives that offer a genre-challenging perspective of the Arab world and those who live across the region.
Arabian Nights is a celebration of Arab cinema, showcasing films made in the region as well as outstanding international films that focus on the region.
DIFF’s Artistic Director, Masoud Amralla Al Ali, said: “The Arabian Nights programme schedule is at the very heart of the festival and has been since its inception. This year’s line-up offers the vision of some of the Middle East’s most celebrated directors as well as the perceptions of highly talented filmmakers from other parts of the world. The films, with their unique medley of viewpoints, techniques and stories, are a powerful, thought-provoking take on the issues facing the Arab world today.”
Jan-Willem van Ewijk’s film ‘Atlantic.’ follows young fisherman Fettah, who watches European tourists visit his tiny village on the Moroccan Atlantic coasts every summer to windsurf. Using equipment they’ve left behind, Fettah becomes a skilled windsurfer himself. One summer Fettah falls in love with a female tourist. When she leaves, his beautiful village loses all appeal and he packs a bag, takes his windsurf board and embarks on an epic ocean journey along the coast to Europe.
Ali F. Mostafa, director of ‘City of Life’, returns to DIFF with his new feature ‘From A to B’. The road movie tells the story of three childhood friends who went their separate ways over the years, but decide to revive their relationship. They travel from Abu Dhabi to Beirut to commemorate their friend Hadi who five years earlier died in Beirut in the 2006 war.
Nadine Naous’s ‘Home Sweet Home’ offers a Lebanese family portrait, in which the director returns to her native Lebanon when she learns her father is having financial difficulties. He is the principal of a progressive school in a south district of Beirut, and the family home forms the venue for frequent lively discussions, which reveal the recent history of the country and the way political changes has transformed society.
‘On the Bride’s Side’, by Khaled Soliman Al Nassiry, Gabriele Del Grande and Antonio Augugliaro tells the tale of a Palestinian poet and an Italian journalist who meet five Palestinians and Syrians who have entered Europe via the Italian island of Lampedusa after fleeing war-torn Syria. They help them complete their journey from Milan to Sweden by faking a wedding, crossing Europe on a four-day journey of 3,000 kilometres.
Liwaa Yazji’s documentary ‘Haunted’ captures the Syrian people’s relationship with their homes during the war. When the bombs arrive, their first instinct is to run away. Later, they remember that they didn’t turn back to capture their last memories of what they were leaving behind.
‘Suspended Time’ is comprised of 9 short films by 9 Palestinian filmmakers and artists - Tarzan & Arab Nasser, Mahdi Fleifel, Yazan Khalili, Alaa Al Ali, Ameen Nayfeh, Asma Ghanem, Assem Nasser, Ayman Azraq and Muhannad Salahat – looking back at the 20 years that followed the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords. The production, with its diverse imagery and messages attempts to mirror the fragmented Palestinian people.
‘Mardan’ by Batin Ghobadi, follows Mardan, who has lived with a great burden of guilt throughout his life. Meanwhile Karzan, a cemetery worker, struggles to deal with his own guilt and fear after an accident that sets the course of a difficult path for both Karzan and Mardan. Amongst the landscape of mountains and a river reminiscent of tragedy, these men are desperate to hide their secrets.
‘Unknown Soldiers’ a world premiere comprised of 8 short films by young first-time directors from Palestine – Sara Dhedel, Hamza Khalifa, Oday Taneeb, Rawan Tamimi, Jaber Abu Rahmeh, Mahmoud Hathleen and Ahmad Amro. The filmmakers illustrate their own perspective of life under occupation and nonviolent means to resist it. These actions range from documenting a guided city tour to the determination of staying on on one’s land and building new institutions.
Shariff Korver’s ‘The Intruder’ follows Samir who was born in Holland to a Moroccan father and a Dutch mother. After graduating from the Police Academy, he gravely desires appreciation from his police force and infiltrates a Moroccan drugs family to prove his worth. The family turns out to be not as unscrupulous as he thought, while the police force isn't always as honorable as they seem to be. Samir finds himself entangled in a moral dilemma.
Wafa Jamil’s ‘Coffee for All Nations’, Enjaaz-supported and a world premiere, tells the story of Abed, who was forced by the Israeli army in 1948 to abandon his home in the Al-Walaja village near Bethlehem. Abed persisted to stay on, living in a cave that he discovered on his land. While in his cave, which was in a spot that could be reached by Palestinians, Israelis and foreigners, he decided to open up a coffee shop. Through his coffee shop, Abed turned his own tragedy into a transformative project that allowed him to share his one true possession: a stunning view. But, for how long?
Delphine Garde-Mroueh, Arabian Nights programmer added: “It is with pride that we announce this year‘s incredible line-up. Our programme will attract and engage DIFF audiences and I look forward to seeing the impact these new voices and ideas will have on our festival visitors”.
All films will screen as part of DIFF’s 11th edition, to take place from December 10 to 17, 2014.