x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Gulf Film Festival 'has formed an intimate bond'

Event will feature 155 films from 40 countries.

DUBAI // It might not have been the longest, but it was a carpet and - crucially - it was red. Not that the filmmakers at the opening night of the Gulf Film Festival (GFF) would have minded, with the festival appreciated for its more low-key approach than some others.

Yesterday's opening of the event, now in its fifth year and being held at Dubai's Festival City until April 16 with screenings in Abu Dhabi for the first time, will feature 155 films from 40 countries.

Speaking at the opening ceremony in the Grand Festival Cinemas, the festival director, Masoud Amralla Al Ali, said that the GFF had developed with regional filmmakers over the years.

"This annual gathering - which everyone views as a gateway to exploring visions, ideas, images heritage and mutual humanitarian concerns - appears today to have formed an intimate bond with talents participating in it," he said.

The opening film last night was Tora Bora, Walid Al Awadi's debut full-length feature about a Kuwaiti family who go to Afghanistan in search of their son who has been brainwashed into extremism.

The Kuwaiti director, who made the film through his Abu Dhabi-based company, C Sky Productions, said he was delighted Tora Bora had been chosen to open the festival. "It's fantastic, because it's a Gulf film, it's Kuwaiti, it's a story from this part of the world," he said.

The film, which took Mr Al Awadi three years to put together, has already proved a hit in Kuwait, where it sold out in many cinemas.

"The message of the film is very close to people, either those who are affected by it or those who are worried about their own children."