x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Festival gives women leading role

Next week's Middle East International Film Festival will highlight the achievements of female Arab directors in a series of screenings.

ABU DHABI // Next week's Middle East International Film Festival will highlight the achievements of female Arab directors in a series of screenings. The Arab Women Directors programme, an important feature of the nine-day event in Abu Dhabi, will be presented by Rima al Mismar, the Lebanese critic, and dedicated to Randa Chahal Sabbag, the acclaimed director who died in August. Sabbag's last film, The Kite, won the Venice Film Festival award - the Silver Lion - in 2003, and will be the first film screened. Set in the Druze area of the Golan Heights, the film follows two young lovers as they struggle against religious divides and cultural traditions. Nashwa al Ruwaini, the festival director, told the state news agency, WAM: "We believe that we should be responsible for giving Arab women directors the chance to showcase their splendid capabilities to the world; and we hope that this event will work as an ideal platform for all of them and help them reach out to the maximum audience possible. We hope, in addition, that it will encourage other emerging talents to make the effort to show off both themselves and their experiences." Other films in the programme include the Palestinian production Always Look Them in the Eyes, by Azza el Hassan, a documentary examining communication networks between Palestinians and Israelis. Also featured is the 1991 production of Albert Cossery's Second World War novel Beggars and Gentlemen, directed by Asmaa el Bakri. One of the most anticipated screenings is the animated film My Son, by Lina Ghaibeh, the Danish-Lebanese director. Other films in the programme include Marock, by Laila Marrakchi; Khmissa, by Molka Mahdaoui; Behind the Mirror, by Nadia Cherabi, Our Heedless Wars, also by Sabbag, Pret A Porter Imm Ali, by Dima el Horr, The Silence of the Palace, by Moufida Tlatli and Thread of Life, by Razam Hijazi. The festival, in its second year, brings together more than 100 films from around the world. Another programme - 60 Years since the Division of Palestine - will show 16 non-Arab productions, including documentaries, shorts and narrative screenings. These include: Intifada - Road to Freedom, by Sarah Montgomery, which tells the story of the Palestinian uprising against the Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; Letters from Palestine, a 2003 documentary featuring 10 stories of day-to-day life for Palestinians, a collaboration by 11 directors; Everyday by Marco Puccioni; Gaza Ghetto - Portrait of a Palestinian Family, by Pea Holmquist; Genet in Chatila, by Richard Dindock; I Came to Palestine, by Robert Krieg; and On Our Land and Voices from Gaza, by Antonia Caccia. lmorris@thenational.ae