x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Abu Dhabi's one-man film festival

q&a Christoph Mohni is curating a new movie series at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation.

The movie-loving development consultant Christoph Mohni is curating a cinema series at the Cultural Foundation.
The movie-loving development consultant Christoph Mohni is curating a cinema series at the Cultural Foundation.

Those in search of arthouse cinema in Abu Dhabi are celebrating the opening of a new movie series in that begins at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation tomorrow. The programme will focus on the cinema of Latin America and is curated by the Abu Dhabi resident Christoph Mohni, a Swiss development consultant for NGOs and a devoted cinephile. The programme starts with Luis Buñuel's Los Olvidados (The Forgotten) and will continue until the end of November.

I came here for my wife, who is the director of the Goethe Institute. Through her, I had contact with these culturally interested people in Abu Dhabi. I have been interested for a long time in all aspects of development and culture: movies, theatre, literature ? and I have a quite a good understanding of Latin American movies and culture. When I came here, I started to do some open-air cinema from the rooftop of my building at the beginning. Then the idea came up that I could maybe curate some retrospectives or a movie cycle or something like this.

Basically, it's modern Latin-American movies from the 1990s and 2000s. So, from the last 20 years, with the exception of two films that are a little bit older. For me, what is important in filmmaking is that the movies have to tell a good story. I also think that usually the best stories are the ones written by life itself, like true stories. It doesn't have to be like this, but it has to be a story about life. So the focus of this whole programme was on these kinds of stories about life in Latin America and all its different aspects. Life in Latin America has an interesting history and a lot of social problems. There is a lot of poverty, a lot of conflict. So all these movies reflect this history.

We will start with the more historic movies. The first one is Los Olvidados from Luis Buñuel, who is not Latin American but Spanish. He was a surrealist working with Salvador Dali. He left after the Spanish Civil War and went to the United States and then to Mexico, where he lived for 20 years. He made a lot of movies during this Mexican period, some of them very good. I chose Los Olvidados because it blends in Italian neorealism, which had quite an influence on modern Latin-American cinema. But it's not neorealism, because it's much more cynical, and it also mixes in surrealism with some dream sequences in the movie. It is also interesting because the movie was rejected by the public and by critics in Mexico because it was too realistic. It showed their social problems, including young street children. But then it won the Palme D'Or at Cannes and when it went back the public received it better.

Yes, we have already started to talk about the possibilities of a new series which will be totally different. It could be African, Mediterranean or Caribbean movies. Maybe also Asian - South Korean movies, which are very interesting. But we also have to see how this series is received by the public.

I was reading something about Spike Lee when he was here and he was telling filmmakers in the Emirates: "Why do you wait for Hollywood to tell your stories?" Because there is all this discussion about Arabs being misrepresented in movies, which is true. It's very limited and stereotyped. But he said: "Why do you wait for Hollywood? You have to tell your own stories." These Latin Americans are telling their stories and I think that's interesting.

Los Olvidados, Friday, October 24, 8pm, free entry. Films will run over the course of nine weeks and begin at 8pm. For full film listings see @email:www.adach.ae