Just four months into the year 2011 and Dubai already seems to have reached its dosage of culture injections. With the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature all wrapped up, the completion of Taste Of Dubai now in refrigeration for next year, and most recently Art Dubai just packed up its easels after yet another successful edition.
Though now, film fanatics can make their way to the front of the queue for their turn at dedicated festivals; for the 4th edition of the Gulf Film Festival has been officially declared underway.
Scheduled for the 14th to the 20th of April at the Dubai Festival City, this week-long fete was launched with the intention of showcasing (and subsequently awarding) regional film-making talent. Though this year’s edition includes an international segment with Europe, India and the Americas’share of shorts, films and documentaries, the GFF will always primarily be the ideal showcase for said Spielbergs from the Sands.
For, though we’re all too familiar with the honchos of the major movie industries Hollywood and Bollywood, not enough attention it seems, is being focused on the nurturing and celebration of Arab cinema. A pity really, as the region has plenty of passion, history and culture to offer.
Abdulhamid Juma, Chairman of the Gulf Film Festival spoke on similar lines: “At GFF, we have set the foundation for Arab and Gulf voices to present their stories. These voices are passionate, honest and gifted. Listen to them. They are engaging and entertaining, but above all, effectively use the cinematic medium to express views that have been unheard and unknown, for far too long.”
With its agenda of screenings, debates and workshops, and a line-up of over 150 films from 31 countries in just 7 days, cinema die-hards, and even the not-so film couture savvy have a film reel smorgasbord to choose from.
And as much as we’d like to be able to taste a bit of everything, here’s our Top 5 for the fest:
The Philosopher (UAE) Directed by Abdulla Al Kaabi: Baggio (Jean Reno) is a successful Parisian, who one day decides to rid himself of all his possessions and embark on a life of aesthetic contemplation. However he finds himself lonely and despondent. Baggio meets Leo, a lonely former alcoholic, who offers him shelter and thus, develops a slow poignant friendship.
Hamama (UAE) Directed by Nujoom Alghanem: Hamama is a 90-years-old female healer renowned and living legend in the Emirates. Her skills are incredibly valuable to hundreds who continue to visit her daily seeking her cures. Yet, Hamama struggles with the responsibility of providing the care that is so needed, while confronting her own personal hardships.
Cola (Iraq) Directed by Yahya Hassan Al-Allaq: A 10-year-old girl becomes the sole provider of her large family as her father is ill. To go about her daily tasks without risking herself in the public domain, she disguises herself as a boy.
Kanary (Qatar) Directed by Sophia Al-Maria: Najla is a Qatari teenager alienated from her family and their rules. But when she is caught riding in a car with a boy, it’s a duel between Najla’s father and her, over who will forgive whom.
Six Strands (India) Directed by Chaitanya Tamhane: A lonely, mysterious woman in the hills of Darjeeling produces the most elusive and expensive tea in the world. Plucked under mysterious conditions, the ‘Moonlight Thurston’ tea triggers layered sensations encompassing taste, memory, love and pleasure. But like all happiness, this tea has an expiry date.
And to think that’s just a fraction of the talent on display. The best bit of the festival however, is the price tag attached to these screenings. There is none. All screenings are free and open to the general public, though of course content advisory labels do apply.
Tickets for each day’s screenings are available from the Box Office at the venue, which is open daily throughout the festival from 10.30am-10pm. We’d scoot right over to that Box Office if we were you.
For more information on screening schedules, visit the official website
– Shaahima Fahim