x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Legendary music and big screenings

Cultural calendar NYU Abu Dhabi are joining forces with Adach this week to launch what looks to be a contemplative aesthetic venture.

The tango musician Astor Piazzolla.
The tango musician Astor Piazzolla.

NYU Abu Dhabi are joining forces with Adach this week to launch what looks to be a contemplative aesthetic venture. Muslim Cultures of Bombay Cinema is a month-long festival which explores Bollywood's Islamic influences from 1939 up to the present. This is a wide field, so the organisers have carved it up, for ease of interpretation, into a number of genres: three mainstream ones - the historical, the courtesan film, and the Muslim social - plus the topical criticism and experimentalism of the new wave. The programme opens with history week and 2008's Jodhaa Akbar, which recounts the 16th century Mughal emperor Akbar's (possibly apocryphal) marriage to Jodhaa, a Rajput princess. The film's director, Ashutosh Gowarikar, will take part in a question-and-answer session before the screening. Then, on consecutive days, there's Pukar, Mirza Ghalib and Mughal-e-Azam, which span the decade or so either side of Partition during which the historical really held sway over Bombay studios. It, and the programming for the weeks that follow, promises to be a feast.

The great Algerian diva Warda al Jazaeria is coming to the Emirates Palace this Thursday, the latest in a series of monthly concerts dedicated to legendary Arabic singers. Al Jazaeria, famous since the 1960s for her blasting voice and stormy private life, is known to be quite choosy about her musical engagements these days, so this Abu Dhabi concert, organised by Adach, is quite a coup. We all have our different rituals for enjoying the Oscars. Some of us sprawl in front of our televisions into the small hours, listlessly heckle whichever sap is playing Billy Crystal this time around and try not to get melted Malteser on our dressing-gown. Others do something else. Happily, there's still another option this year: a glitzy Oscar screening party (dress code: red carpet), to be held at the Abu Dhabi Intercontinental Hotel tomorrow. See the highlights from the ceremony before they're rebroadcast in the UAE, catch some student films from Abu Dhabi's New York Film Academy, make like Christian Bale and curse the stuffing out of anyone who looks like a director of photography - the sky's the limit. There'll be cosmetics goody-bags, too, to perfect that spoilt-rotten movie star sensation. And Maltesers? Will there be Maltesers? These too, I'm sure, can be arranged.

Ductac is offering a rare chance to familiarise yourself with the music of Astor Piazzolla, the man who transformed the tango from a facile dance form beloved of Argentine gangsters into a cerebral, avante jazz and Bach inspired headphone experience. The show is organised by the Dubai Concert Committee and, as is their custom, seats are nominally by invitation only. However, if you arrive 10 minutes before the start of the show and there are places going begging, they'll let you in. The show should be worth the gamble: it used to be said that "in Argentina, everything may change - except the tango", but Piazzolla put paid to that. With a new quintet of Argentine, Finnish and Italian players coming together especially to interpret his music, here's a fascinating opportunity to find out how.

It's a pleasure to note that a new gallery is opening for business in Abu Dhabi this week. Acento is devoted to Hispanic artists of both the flamboyantly contemporary and the humbly folkish persuasions. This means one can find the surrealist designs of Josep Puigmartí, the septuagenarian Spanish painter who cultivates the look of a glam-rock Uncle Sam, rubbing alongside the traditional clay pineapples of Hilario Alejos Madrigal, a Mexican potter who learnt the art of pineapple-making from his mother, herself a celebrated mistress of the art. Throw in some of Yvonne Domenge's geometric sculptures and Sergio Bustamante's spooky, Guillermo del Toro-like figurines and the phrase "something for everyone" could have been coined for the occasion.

Finally, it remains to be seen which authors will attend this week's Emirates International Literary Festival, but one thing's for sure, whoever does come will have plenty to discuss.

Oscar Night Party, Feb 23, Intercontinental Hotel, Abu Dhabi, call 050 826 6043 for tickets Piazzolla. Feb 24, Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, www.ductac.org, call 04 341 4777 for details Muslim Cultures of Bombay Cinema. Heritage Village Theater, Abu Dhabi, Feb 26-March 21, (www.nyuad.nyu.edu). Warda Al Jazaeria. Emirates Palace auditorium, Abu Dhabi, Feb 27 (www.adach.ae). Acento Gallery. Street 13, Al Meena Port Area, Abu Dhabi, Feb 25 (www.acentogallery.com). Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature. Dubai Festival City, Dubai, Feb 26-March 1 (www.eaifl.com).