x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Abu Dhabi Film Festival: freezing, snoring and baba ganoush

Cinema-goers get lost in Emirates Palace, freeze to death then snore their way through screenings.

Many attendees at the ADFF have had a hard time navigating the sprawling Emirates Palace. Jeff Topping / The National
Many attendees at the ADFF have had a hard time navigating the sprawling Emirates Palace. Jeff Topping / The National

The screenings for the various elements of the Emirates Film Competition are proving popular.

A queue of people were waiting for standby tickets for the 16 films screening as part of the Short Narrative programme on Saturday. In addition to our silent, black-and-white comedy Mahyas, directed by Lamya Al Mualla, the other films were a mix of live action and animated offerings, such as Children, directed by Mohammed Fikree, and Um Al Duwais directed by Sarah Zohair. One film left most of the Gulf and Arab audience members in shock was 3aib, which addressed the sensitive topic of the shame, and how that feeling can prevent and propel women into doing different things. It was directed by Anonymous, most likely because the subject of the story defied both Arab tradition and religion. Hopefully their work will push the door wider to talk about such things

* Mariam Al Nuaimi


At Sunday night's showing of Sam Kadi's The Citizen, two lines went down particularly well with the audience. One was about the questioning of Ibrihim (Khaled Nabawy) being 'un-American'. The other? An onscreen recipe for baba ganoush.

* Karl Smith


The Emirates Palace is many things, but small isn't one of them. Many of the attendees of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival have been lost trying to get from one wing to another, or to find the various rooms for interviews and press conferences. At one point a somewhat lost Nate Parker stopped The National to ask for directions to the Etoiles restaurant, and he was only in the lobby! Speaking of Parker, he quickly became one of our favourite personalities at the festival and he was a gentleman to the end, tweeting: "Headed to airport. Sad to leave. #ADFF #AbuDhabi #Dubai #Lebanon and all of #UAE"

* Alex Ritman


Canadian actor/director Sarah Polley's documentary about the discovery of her own family secret - that the father who raised her after her mother's death is actually not her real father - is so deeply moving it's almost guaranteed to bring on the tears. But snores? The second screening of Stories We Tell on Sunday - at 4.30pm - was interrupted twice by separate loud-mouthed snorers, at precisely two of the most critical moments, followed by the crowd's uncomfortable laughter. One audience member shouted "wake up!". Not exactly the best place for an afternoon nap.

* Mo Gannon


Going to films in the UAE is a frigid experience at the best of times, but the cold temperatures blowing into Marina Mall Vox Cinemas 6 for Sunday night's first screening of the Iranian thriller A Respectable Family were too much for a row of assembled VIPs. So out came a cosy-looking stack of blue blankets, which immediately drew the envy of the regular cinema-goers. When one woman asked if she might have one, she was told they were "out of stock". As a volunteer told another audience member who complained, "if we turn off the air people say it's too hot".

* Ann Marie McQueen