Dubai International Film Festival
Nine of the finest films from Asia and Africa will screen to the public next month from December 7 to 14 as part of the eighth Dubai International Film Festival’s ‘Cinema of Asia Africa’ programme.
The feature films and one anime film have been selected from locations as diverse as China, Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan in the Far East to Rwanda and South Africa. Of the selection, eight are showing for the first time in the Middle East; one for the first time in the Gulf.
From Hong Kong, award-winning director and former DIFF juror Johnnie To’s suspense drama Life without Principle follows three unrelated individuals driven by the need for money. One is a bank teller turned financial analyst selling high risk securities to her customers to meet her targets; the second, a small time thug who gambles with the index to earn quick money for a friend’s bail; and the third, a straight-arrow cop who needs money when his wife commits to the down payment on a flat she cannot afford. When a bag of money emerges, the three are thrust into finding their moral compass.
Set in contemporary Tibet, Pema Tseden’s award-winning film Old Dog explores the loss of culture and tradition, and follows the life of an old man who refuses to part with his Tibetan mastiff, a pet much in demand in urban China. Although the old man’s son has sold the dog, he tries his best to get back his loyal friend, setting off a chain of tragicomic events.
From the Philippines, Adolfo Borinaga Alix Jr’s Fable of the Fish interweaves natural and magic realism elements with folk tales, urban myths and traditional faith, explores a woman’s faith in miracles being tested when she becomes pregnant despite her age. She, however, gives birth to a fish, and now her marriage is tried by strange and surreal incidents. The film, which stars Bembel Roco and Cherry Pie Picache, has been described as a clear example of ‘one of the most adventurous national cinemas of the last decade.’
Respected South Korean filmmaker Lee Yoon-Ki’s Come Rain, Come Shine, the only Asian film to compete in the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year, centres on a soon-to-be-separated couple who have to spend one last day together when a storm strikes their city. The film stars Hyun Bin and is based on a short story by Japan’s Inoue Areno.
From Taiwan, the action-packed Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale tells the true story of Taiwan’s aboriginal people who were almost wiped out by Japanese colonizers in the 1930s. The Seediq warriors rebel, under the leadership of Chief Mouna Rudo. The film’s authenticity, spectacular rainforest-set action and combat scenes have drawn wide acclaim for director Wei Te-Sheng.
Seven years in the making, the exquisite A Letter to Momo is the highly anticipated second feature from world-renowned anime director Hiroyuki Okiura. Clinging to an unfinished letter written by her recently deceased father, Momo learns that the strange and supernatural things happening on Shio Island are connected in some way to her father’s mysterious letter. The sensitive and charming film about loss and imagination is sure to appeal to children and adults alike.
Also from Japan is veteran Iranian director Amir Naderi’s Cut, making its GCC premiere. The film centres on a struggling young filmmaker named Shuji who is dedicated to changing the state of cinema, until his brother is killed for his failure to repay loans taken to finance Shuji's films. Faced with the responsibility of repayment, Shuji decides to become a human punching bag in the gym where his brother was killed.
From South Africa comes Sara Becher’s award-winning Otelo Burning, a Zulu language surf movie set in Durban against the backdrop of the political violence at the end of apartheid in the late 1980s. The coming of age story follows Otelo Buthelezi and his two friends, who overcome their fear of the sea and find freedom and joy in surfing, as well as the challenges of jealousy, love and change.
Last but not least, Kivu Ruhorahoza’s Grey Matter is the first feature film by a Rwandan filmmaker. A penetrating look into the country’s shattered psyche, the film-within-a-film depicts the story of Balthazar, a young filmmaker who is in the midst of completing his first fictional film surrounding a woman who survives war crimes, and a man who commits them. When Balthazar is unable to source funding, he continues filming anyway, only to find the line of differentiation between the real and fictional blurring.
Nashen Moodley, Director of the Asia Africa Programme for DIFF, said: “Cinema from Asia and Africa are witnessing a remarkable transformation now, with the filmmakers experimenting with themes, approaches and styles. The boundaries between reality and fantasy are often blurred in these films, and the impact left on the viewer is powerful.”
The DIFF box office is now open online at www.dubaifilmfest.com and at the DIFF box offices in Dubai Media City, JBR The Walk, Mall of the Emirates and Madinat Jumeirah. Additional information is also available through the Festival’s dedicated customer care number, 363 FILM (3456).
The Investment Corporation of Dubai is the title sponsor of the Dubai International Film Festival, which is held in association with Dubai Studio City. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah, home to the Dubai International Film Festival, are the principal sponsors of DIFF. The Festival is supported by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.