There is an unbroken thread of Arab talent at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF) this year, starting with the glamorous, star-studded opening night premiere of Black Gold on October 25 and continuing throughout the five-day run.
A feast of genres, themes and ideas from around the region will challenge and entertain cinema lovers in Doha, and the festival invites audiences to witness the next generation of Arab cinema talent on their doorsteps.
Hania Mroue, chief Arab programmer at Doha Film Institute, said: “The films we are showcasing from the region this year are very diverse and in terms of talent, story and production values are on par with similar offerings from international cinema. There has been a real explosion of growth in this sector around the Middle East and North Africa and the maturity of vision is evident in the broad selection to be featured in DTFF 2011.”
Mystery aficionados should be sure to see A Man of Honour by Jean-Claude Codsi, which follows Brahim, who has a chance encounter with a mysterious woman he knew 20 years ago. Because of her, he committed a murder and now has to return home to face his past.
Similarly, the Moroccan courtroom drama, Omar Killed Me, by Roschdy Zem, is the tale of a miscarriage of justice, and tracks an investigative journalist who delves into the case of a gardener wrongfully convicted of the murder of his wealthy employer.
Weighty secrets also come out in Salah Abo-Seif’s acclaimed 1991 film, An Egyptian Citizen (starring Omar Sharif, who will attend the screening on October 28), where a feudal mayor sends his guard’s son into war in place of his own, and must cope with the fateful events set in place by the young man’s death.
On a lighter note, Nadine Labaki’s crowd pleaser, Where do We Go Now?, a comedic musical that sees the women of a village in south Lebanon uniting to stop the cycle of violence that surrounds them. The film arrives in Doha fresh from the Toronto Film Festival, where it won the People’s Choice Award.
Another film that will strike a positive emotional chord is Fatma Zohra Zamoum’s How Big is Your Love, a touching story about a childhood in modern Algiers, when young Adel is sent to live with his grandparents for the weekend and enters their everyday lives and rituals.
Smuggler’s Songs, by Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche, sets off in search of followers of a famous 18th century brigand, revolutionary and smuggler, Louis Mandrin, loved by the masses and feared by the powerful. After his death - he was dismembered in public - his friends continued his utopian project, creating a parallel economy across the French countryside.
Shocking stories of individuals that buckle under the pressure of social norms come from Iraq and Egypt this year.
Director Halkawt Mustafa’s Red Heart charts the painful coming of age of a young Kurdish girl. After finding her father wants to trade her in exchange for a new wife, she runs away from home with her boyfriend. After his accidental death, she finds herself alone at the mercy of the big city.
Winner of the Golden Pyramid Award for Best International Film at the Cairo Film Festival, Khaled al Hagar’s Lust follows the poor inhabitants of a marginalised street, including Umm Shooq, who deserted her wealthy family to marry the man she loves. Settling into a life of poverty, she is tormented by her sense of shame and inadequacy.
In a cinematic nod to the Arab Spring, Merzak Allouache’s Normal tells the story of a director who allows a group of young actors to create an ending to his own documentary about the disillusionment of youth in Algeria.
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