The Abu Dhabi Film Festival was home to another world debut last night.
The Egyptian drama Villa 69, made with assistance with the festival’s SANAD fund, received warm applause last night after premiering at the Emirates Palace Ballroom.
Starring Khaled Abou Naja,Lebleba and Sally Abeid, the affecting drama traced the life of the snarly architect Hussein.
Wracked by illness, Hussein’s self imposed seclusion is interrupted with the arrival of his sister Nadra (Lebleba) and nephew Seif (Omar El Ghandour).
Laced with droll humour and touching realisations, Villa 69 is a film about confronting the past and directed by one of Egypt’s future film stars.
Villa 69 is Aytin Amin’s debut feature film, her previous credits include the 2011 documentary Tahrir 2011: The Good, the Bad, and the Politician and the 2009 short film Spring 89.
“I just wanted to tell a story,” Amin said after the screening.
“It was something personal that I was working on and now I am glad people have come to enjoy it. I am grateful.”
Veteran actress Lebleba applauded Amin’s vision and challenged fellow established actors to work with young directors.
“Many actors don’t want to take the risk,” she stated.
“They think they could be used in the wrong way and that was never the case with me in the film. I trusted the script and I trusted her direction and I am really happy with the result.”
A similar sentiment was echoed by producer Mohamed Hefzy. “This should happen more,” he said.
“We need people to take a leap of faith with first time directors in terms of financing, production and distribution and I am grateful for all the stars who were involved in this film.”
Another SANAD funded film, the Iraqi drama In The Sands of Babylon, screened this afternoon at Marina Mall's Vox Cinemas.
Directed by Mohamed Jabarah Al-Daradji, the film follows an Iraqi soldier escaping from Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War.
The Abu Dhabi Festival continues until Saturday. For details go to www.abudhabifilmfestival.ae