The line-up for this year’s Abu Dhabi Film Festival has finally been revealed. Let’s take a look at some of the titles likely to be battling for your attention and diary inches from October 11 to 21.
Most people know by now that Richard Gere is bringing Arbitrage to open the festival but there are a few other big-name titles jostling for space in the scheduling. For a spot of action, David Ayer’s End of Watch should fit the bill, or Flight from Robert Zemeckis, both of which are heavy with major stars.
Charles Dickens gets a shout-out with Mike Newell’s adaptation of his Great Expectations, while fans of movies about movies will no doubt enjoy Room 237, a documentary looking at hidden meanings in The Shining.
Last year’s festival may have had panel discussions about the Arab Spring and filmmaking, but this year we can see some of its creative fruits. Yousry Nasrallah’s Cannes-competing drama, After the Battle, set during the Egyptian revolution, is screening, and from Tunisia comes Hidden Beauties, about two girls striving to assert themselves as the uprisings erupt around them.
There’s also the poetic regional drama The Patience Stone, starring the flavour of the moment Golshifteh Farahani, while in A World Not Ours, the Dubai-born Mahdi Fleifel returns to Lebanon’s Ain Al Helweh refugee camp for an emotional and often witty documentary about friendship and hope. Another Cannes competitor, Abbas Kiarostami’s Tokyo-based Like Someone In Love, is also in the line-up.
For those after a splash of film nostalgia, this year’s festival offers a decent crop of classics. On the theme of regional uprisings comes Gillo Pontecorvo’s spectacular Battle of Algiers, while in Z, Costa-Gavras provides a superbly satirical look at Greece’s military dictatorship in the 1960s.
But if toe-tapping is more your thing, get prepared to whistle along with Gene Kelly in Singin’ In the Rain while the sun undoubtedly rains down outside.
Richard Gere aside, we imagine the A-list arrivals will be kept a secret until they actually step off the plane. But looking at the films, there’s good reason for star-spotters to perhaps get a little giddy. The End of Watch lead Jake Gyllenhaal would likely be a welcome visitor for most women under 40 (although perhaps not for reporters continually having to check the spelling of his name). And if the director of the thriller The Company You Keep heads over, it’ll mean we’ll have both Gere and Robert Redford hitting the red carpet. Lock up your daughters.
The line-up is packed with directors who have accumulated numerous industry awards for their work, but in the thought-provoking Saving Face, about a Pakistani plastic surgeon working with survivors of acid attacks, we’ve got this year’s actual Academy Award winner for Best Documentary (Short Subject). And who knows: given that last year’s festival featured Iran’s Best Foreign Language Film-winning A Separation, perhaps there will be another Oscar among this crop of titles.
While last year’s festival included the world premiere of the Emirati-made Sea Shadow, there’s sadly no such major local production this time around although there are several co-productions from the festival's own SANAD fund. However, the festival will include the annual Emirates Film Competition, which this year has the established Emirati screenwriter and director Saleh Karama stepping into the directorial shoes following the move of previous head, Ali Al Jabri, to overall festival director.
Tickets are available from September 26 Marina Mall Box Office and Emirates Palace Box Office. Single screenings are Dh30 (Dh20 for students) while festival passes are Dh400.