ABU DHABI // The line-up for the Abu Dhabi Film Festival was unveiled today, with around 80 films from across the world jostling for position in a busy 10-day schedule starting Thursday, October 13.
Alongside a selection of established Hollywood directors and actors will be a wide variety of emerging regional talent. “Our theme is always quality,” says festival executive director Peter Scarlet of the selection process.
Leading the A-list pack is political thriller The Ides of March, directed by and starring George Clooney. A Dangerous Method, directed by David Cronenburg, examines the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, and stars Keira Knightley, Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen. Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion sees an all-star ensemble that includes Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Marion Cotillard all battling a global pandemic. Less contagious, but still troubling, is We Need To Talk About Kevin, the adaption of Lionel Shriver’s award-winning novel about a fictitious high school massacre starring Tilda Swinton.
Among the regional titles is A Separation from Iranian director Ashgar Farhadi, whose previous film, the award-winning About Elly, was screened in Abu Dhabi two years ago. Another returnee is Iraqi director Mohamed Al Daradji, who follows up 2009’s Son of Babylon with the documentary In My Mother’s Arms, looking at an orphanage in Baghdad. The animation film Chicken With Plums, Marjane Satrapi’s follow up to Persepolis, is likely to generate some interest, and features the voices of Isabella Rossellini and Golshifteh Farahani.
From the UAE comes the world premiere of Sea Shadow, the coming-of-age film from Emirati director Nawaf Al Janahi and the first Emirati project from Imagenation, part of Abu Dhabi Media.
As part of a section focussing on Swedish cinema, three films from Ingmar Bergman – Wild Strawberries, Fanny and Alexander and Smiles of a Summer Night – will be screened, alongside the documentary The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, made up of footage taken by Swedish journalists covering the Civil Rights movement in the US.
Another special category will celebrate the works of Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz on the 100th anniversary of his birth, with eight films based on his books screening at the festival, all by leading Egyptian directors.
Of the numerous documentaries in the line-up, two come from filmmaking masters. Cave of Forgotten Dreams from Werner Herzog brings to life – with the help of 3D – the prehistoric paintings in the Chauvet cave in France. Then there’s George Harrison: Living in the Material World by Martin Scorsese, looking at the life of the former Beatle.
A major change for the festival this year is the venue. Previously based in the Emirates Palace, this year much of the activity – including the red carpet screenings – will take place at the 500-seater Abu Dhabi Theatre near the Marina Mall. Each evening, by the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, there will be outdoor screenings, with space for an audience of 1,200.
Tickets for the festival are due to go on sale September 25. Visit www.abudhabifilmfestival.ae for more details. The movie line-up above is subject to change. Please check the Abu Dhabi Film Festival website regularly for updates.