With a series of independent pictures, art house films and outdoor showings on the world's largest screen, Dubai movie lovers will be spoiled for choice in the coming weeks.
Some new views
With the release of the disaster epic 2012 this month, film fans may feel as if they've been riding the treadmill of summer blockbusters long enough. But hope is at hand, as a number of newly announced film programmes in Dubai look set to remind us that there's more to the movies than end-of-the-world fantasies. In the coming weeks, a series of independent films will be screened at Reel Cinemas in Dubai Mall, a continuing programme of black-and-white art house movies will play at The Jam Jar gallery, and Swiss OpenAir Concept will show a host of films that have yet to reach UAE multiplexes. On top of all that, the Dubai International Film Festival is also set release its full line-up in the coming days.
In short, Dubai will be transformed from the land that independent cinema forgot to an adventure playground for cinephiles. The most high-profile event is the 2,000 seat Swiss OpenAir Cinema at the Dubai Media City Amphitheater, which launched Thursday with a showing of the latest Twilight movie, New Moon, and runs until December 7. The 4,000 square-foot, six-story high screen is the largest in the world.
Audiences will also be able to catch the comedies Old Dogs and Zombieland, the animated tales Astro Boy and A Christmas Carol and the aviation biopic Amelia at the outdoor venue. "We do this in 17 locations around the world, from Sydney up to Rio," said Farzin Samadian, the CEO of Swiss OpenAir Concept. "All of the films are interesting, but the first film is key. We are opening with New Moon, which will be one of the best films of this year.
"Between 60 and 70 per cent of our films will be local premieres, but we are not competing with the cinemas. This is a totally different environment and more of an event." The OpenAir Cinema appeared in Dubai and Abu Dhabi last year. However, only a Dubai programme has been announced for 2009. Samadian said film lovers in the capital should not fret; organisers aim to return to Abu Dhabi in February for a separate series of screenings.
Another new addition to the Dubai's film calendar will be The Picturehouse at Reel Cinemas. The Dubai Mall multiplex is dedicating one of its screens to "art house, independent and award-winning classics" and "has lined up five debate-rousing movies between now and the end of January". The Picturehouse is currently showing the indie romance Paper Heart, about a stand-up comedienne who embarks on a journey across America to explore the subject of love.
Also slated to appear are the political satire In The Loop, the black comedy Cold Souls, the Iranian underground rock exposé No One Knows About Persian Cats and the disaster capitalism documentary The Shock Doctrine. Each will be shown for between two and three weeks at The Picturehouse. Coming to an end tomorrow is The Jam Jar gallery's latest Mahmovies! series, Black and White Glory. The five-week run of Monday night screenings attracts up to 200 film lovers each week. The gallery's latest programme aims to showcase some of the finest black and white cinematography in the history of filmmaking.
The final night will feature a screening of the Danish enfant terrible Lars von Trier's noir-like Europa, set in post-war Frankfurt. Earlier this month audiences were treated to two early-1960s classics: the Soviet propaganda piece I am Cuba and the experimental science-fiction film La Jetée. "We have a large screen that fills a wall of the gallery and we fill the floor with bean bags," said Rachel Brown, the head of special projects at The Jam Jar. "We are really building a community here of film lovers in the UAE and it's great that there are now other film nights that are starting to come about."
Although the full line-up for DIFF has yet to be announced, details of some of its programmes have been revealed, including a Cinema for Children showcase and a focus on French cinema. The festival will run from December 9 to 16.