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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Dubai's first fully fledged arthouse cinema is now open

Cinema Akil will play independent films every night - with the opening programme including an acclaimed Alexander McQueen documentary, a skate film and the moving Egyptian tale 'Yomeddine' 

The new Cinema Akil theatre in Al Serkal Ave. Photo: Mohamed Somji / Seeing Things 
The new Cinema Akil theatre in Al Serkal Ave. Photo: Mohamed Somji / Seeing Things 

Cinema Akil began showing independent films at pop-up screenings across the UAE in 2014, and the great news is that they now have their own fully-fledged site.

Cinema Akil's permanent theatre opened in Al Serkal Avenue in Dubai last weekend, and it will open at 4pm daily, showing two to three screenings every night of the week (see the full schedule here). It will also be home to Project Chaiwala, a tea concept that will feed and water you to keep you satisfied throughout the films.

The cinema walls are covered in dark-red paper and some of the seats have been salvaged from the balcony of the Plaza (later Golden) Cinema in Bur Dubai – the oldest single-screen standalone cinema in the city, which was knocked down three years ago to make way for a hotel. Seats are unassigned, and you can buy tickets at the Cinema Akil website.

Inside the new arthouse cinema. Photo: Mohamed Somji / Seeing Things 
Inside the new arthouse cinema. Photo: Mohamed Somji / Seeing Things

The films you'll be able to see there in the next few months

The movies on the opening programme reflect the diverse range Cinema Akil will showcase...

Yomeddine (2018)

This film took home the François Chalais prize at Cannes in May, and is Egypt's Academy Award submission for this year.

McQueen (2018)

This looks at the late designer's life and has a rare 100 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Colour of Pomegranates (1969)

Blending the tactile with the abstract, this art film revives the splendours of Armenian culture through the story of 18th-century troubadour Sayat-Nova, charting his intellectual, artistic and spiritual growth through iconographic compositions rather than traditional narrative.

Dogman (2018)

An Italian story of a quiet, unassuming dog groomer who becomes tied up with a violent boxer who is terrorising the neighbourhood.

Skate Kitchen (2018)

A story of a lonely suburban teenager whose life changes dramatically when she befriends a group of skateboarders.

In Syria (2017)

In this tense drama, a mother of three turns her flat into a safe haven for her family and neighbours in an attempt to protect them from the war raging on the streets of Damascus.

The Old Man and the Gun (2018)

Robert Redford stars in this true story of Forrest Tucker, who escaped from San Quentin at the age of 70 and went on to commit an unprecedented series of heists that confounded authorities and fascinated the public.

Cold War (2018)

A romance set against the backdrop of 1950s Poland.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)

One for pure cinema buffs, this German fairy tale is the oldest surviving animated feature film.

Summer of '84 (2018)

A bit like Stranger Things but with serial killers rather than supernatural in-betweens.

Grace Jones: Bloodlight & Bami (2017)

This documentary follows the many different facets of the pop culture legend's private and public life.

The Evil Dead (1981)

A classic horror of the 'cabin in the woods' type that is one of Sam Raimi's earliest works.

So why go from pop-up to permanent?

“There is the magic of cinema and the egalitarian nature of accessibility to the language of film,” founder Butheina Kazim told us earlier this year. “But then there’s the bigger picture, which is the thing that film allows to happen in the space of a cinema. That’s why I insisted on having a site.

Butheina Kazim. Photo supplied 
Butheina Kazim. Photo / Supplied

"A lot of the standalone cinemas are gone, and there are very few spaces where you can sit with the film. That’s where the magic happens: the few moments after a film where people are settling in and looking at each other and trying to understand what happened, or that shared disgruntlement sometimes, or exasperation, or shared joy. It’s kind of like travelling together.”

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Read more:

Here are the Oscar contenders from the Middle East

It's always better on the big screen: our guide to the UAE’s most intriguing cinema experiences

Mohammed Saeed Harib and Shivani Pandya launch 'strategic consultancy' NearEast Entertainment

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