Canary, a film directed by Mohammed Rashed Bu Ali from Bahrain
Twenty-one films from the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Yemen will be screened at the 3rd Baghdad International Film Festival (BIFF) next month as part of a showcase presented by the Dubai-based Gulf Film Festival. The Baghdad festival will be held from October 3 to 6, 2011.
The Gulf Film Festival, widely regarded as the home of bold, contemporary and innovative cinema from the Arabian peninsula, put together the selection of short films, documentaries and feature films to represent the diversity of the region’s cinema and its growing talent base. All the films have featured in previous editions of the GFF, which concluded its fourth edition in April 2011.
Seven of the films are participating in the Baghdad festival’s official competition – an additional three are in its Arab Women Directors competition. The only global film festival in Iraq, BIFF aims to set a benchmark of excellence in Iraqi cinema, providing filmmakers with a platform to showcase their works despite the challenges they face. The Festival also shines the spotlight on up-and-coming filmmakers, especially women filmmakers, with an exclusive segment titled ‘Women Behind Cameras.’
Films screening at Baghdad from the UAE include two feature films: Ali Mostafa’s City of Life, which opened the third Gulf Film Festival, depicting the parallel worlds that exist simultaneously in the city of Dubai, and Nawaf Al Janahi’s The Circle, which narrates the story of Ibrahim, a poet who discovers that he will die from a fatal disease, and finds himself exchanging lives with a thief who enters his house.
Documentary films from the UAE include Nujoom Alghanem’s Hamama, which follows the 90-year-old female healer and living legend from Al Dhaid, and Moath Bin Hafez’s Constructing Dreams, a documentary on construction workers and the momentary joys in their otherwise routine lives.
Emirati short films include Rawia Abdullah’s Amal’s Cloud, which shows Amal waiting in the middle of the yard, shifting between patience and hope, while waiting for the jinx to melt and disappear; Khalid Al Mahmood’s Sabeel, the story of two young boys in Ras Al Khaimah tending and selling vegetables to help their ailing grandmother; Nayla Al Khaja’s Malal which revolves around a young Emirati couple on their honeymoon; Jamal Salim’s Slow Death, a gritty tale on a grave digger forced to retire after 30 years of service who insists that he wants to live in the UAE.
Also in the short selection is Hamad Al Hammadi’s End of December in which an old man’s room catches fire; and Abdulla Al Kaabi’s The Philosopher, based on ‘Baggio’s Story’ by Charlie Fish. Baggio is a successful Parisian, a pianist, footballer and bon vivant who decides to rid himself of all his possessions and embark on a life of aesthetic contemplation.
From Saudi Arabia are The Shoemaker by Ahd Kamel, Mohammed Aldhahri’s Sunrise/Sunset, and Aayesh, by Abdullah Al-Eyaf, while selections from Kuwait include Abdullah Boushahri’s May Al Jannah (Heaven’s Water) and Mustache by Meqdad Al Kout.
Films from Bahrain include Mohammed Jassim’s thriller The Power of Generations, and Mohammed Rashed Bu Ali’s Canary, while Omani films include Leaking by Amjad Abdullah Al Hinai and Khamis and Spices, from director Amer Alrawas.
The eclectic line-up of films also include Qatari filmmaker Faisal Al-Thani’s Demi-plie, and Yemeni filmmaker Khadija Al Salami’s Destructive Beast.
Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Festival Director, Gulf Film Festival, said: “Iraqi cinema, a vital contributor to the cinema of our region and the Gulf Film Festival, continues to shake the consciousness of viewers through compelling narratives that reflect social realities. We are honoured to present a strong contingent of films from the Gulf Film Festival for the Baghdad International Film Festival, underlining the collaborative spirit among regional film festivals in promoting Arab cinema and presenting new film experiences to a wider audience.”
Dr. Taher Alwan, Director, Baghdad International Film Festival, said: “We are pleased to have this fruitful cooperation between the Baghdad International Film Festival and Gulf Film Festival, where the goals of both festivals complement each other in playing a vital role in encouraging cinematic experiences in Iraq and the Gulf States. The support of DIFF and GFF, have created a benchmark that we in the Baghdad International Film Festival aspire to inculcate. We are sure that this partnership will evolve into a more successful collaboration, where we can stress on the role of and importance of the film culture in contemporary life. We hope to create a substantial film industry, despite all the challenges faced by Iraq at this time.”
“On this occasion, and on behalf of myself and the Baghdad International Film Festival, we would like to salute Abdulhamid Juma and Masoud Amralla Al Ali and their teams for their efforts in collaborating with us to achieve our common goals," he added.
The 3rd Baghdad International Film Festival will also host numerous workshops addressing scriptwriting, film production, and cinematography. The second edition of the Festival witnessed unprecedented success having received submissions from 20 countries across Asia, Europe, Africa, and Middle East.
The annual Gulf Film Festival is supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority and is held in association with Dubai Studio City. The fourth Gulf Film Festival was held in April 2011 at Dubai Festival City.