x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Aung San Suu Kyi biopic to make Middle East debut at Qatar festival

Michelle Yeoh stars in The Lady, among the lineup announced for the 2011 Doha Tribeca Film Festival.

Michelle Yeoh plays Aung San Suu Kyi in The Lady.
Michelle Yeoh plays Aung San Suu Kyi in The Lady.

A biopic about Burmese freedom fighter Aung San Suu Kyi will get its Middle East premiere at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival 2011.

The Lady, by French director Luc Besson, is one of a number of regional premieres announced today as Qatar's annual film festival presented the list of 16 films in its Contemporary World Cinema programme.

The film will close this year's edition of the festival, which runs from October 25-29. The biopic centres on the relationship between Aung San Suu Kyi, played by Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon star Michelle Yeoh, and her British husband while she was under house arrest by Burma's regime. Incarcerated for over a decade, the film tries to capture the inner turmoil of their enforced separation.

"I was deeply inspired and touched by Aung San Suu Kyi's personal story and her ongoing fight for democracy," said Besson. "I hope that through this film her cause and voice will be better known and shared with audiences around the world."

The rest of the programme comprises a mixture of documentary and narrative films that range from the serious to the frivolous.

Highlights of the documentary lineup include Mama Africa, Mika Kaurasmaki's detailed look at the life of South Africa's most famous songstress Miriam Makeba, as well as the latest by Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me). Spurlock shot to recognition in 2004 for his film about the bodily effects of eating McDonalds every day for a month. Icons of America once again come under the director's scrutiny in Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope, a documentary follows the devoted making their pilgrimage to America's biggest comic book convention.

The Hunter is Daniel Nettheim's latest drama, an Australian production based on the novel by Julia Leigh and starring Willem Dafoe. It tells the story of a mercenary sent to find the last remaining Tasmanian tiger. As for regional selections, Nadine Labaki returns with a new feature film after the bounding festival-circuit success of 2007's Caramel. Labaki's latest work, W Halla' La Wein? (Where do we go now?), won the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month. It centres on a group of women in Lebanon who attempt to maintain order in their town despite the religious tensions brewing under the surface. The Turkish director Yasemin Samdereli presents Alamanya - Welcome To Germany, a comedy about a trio of German-Turks who set off on a soul-searching trip to their ancestral homeland.

"We're really pleased to be able to bring such a wide range of extraordinary films to Qatar this year - from cutting edge indie thrillers to heartfelt dramas and creative documentaries - from the works of Takashi Shimizu and Pawel Pawlikowski, to the great documentary filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky," said the Doha Film Institute's head of international programming, Ludmila Cvikova.

"Many of them tackle very important matters - immigration and dislocation, religious tensions, human courage in the face of familial turmoil, and the nature of love and loss in a time of political unrest and social change."

The titles selected for the Contemporary World Cinema titles compete for one of two audience choice awards, one for narrative films and another for best documentary. The winners of each of those receive US$100,000 (Dh367,300).

More from The National: Find what's new at the movies, on festival circuit, and in your DVD player at Film.