Gulf culture, including its music and unique ceremonies, are in the spotlight today, Tuesday, April 19 at the fourth Gulf Film Festival, the home of bold, contemporary and innovative cinema from the Arabian peninsula.
The festival, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), ends tomorrow, Wednesday, April 20.
Saudi Arabian filmmaker Fahmi Farouk Farahat pans his camera on the wedding traditions of the Al Hijaz area in the Gulf Competition documentary A Night to Remember (screening at Grand Cinema 10, 9.15 pm). The weddings usually take place on full moon nights set to the gentle sounds of a flute, as the guests walk though the old streets of Mecca.
Music is also at the heart of Arabic Fusion, an entry from the UAE, directed by Franco-German director Cyril Eberle. It explores the pillars of Arabic music and the compositions that paved the way for fusion artistes in the contemporary world.
The third documentary in the same cluster screening is an Iraqi entry, Wings of the Soul, directed by Kasim Abid. He narrates the story of the followers who gather at the tomb of the Sufi saint Sheikh Hamad Al Nil in Khartoum, Sudan, in an intimate portrayal of a forgotten world.
Other films at GFF 2011 involving music include: The Singer (Grand Cinema 4, 9.30 pm), an in-competition feature by Iraqi director Kassem Hawal, is the powerful story of a musician who is delayed on his way to the birthday celebration of the dictator and faces the despot’s wrath.
Iraqi director Hikmat Albaydani’s Sedeqa Al Mullaya, screening at noon, narrates the eponymous tale of the enchanting female singer who symbolizes the country’s creativity. In the same cluster, watch Darkness, by Emirati director Ahmed Zain, which delves into a bygone era in the UAE to narrate the story of a postman, who draws support from his two pillars – his job and his son.
From music to the pain of forced expatriation and the human side of war, two Iraqi filmmakers bring poignant documentaries to GFF 2011 to be screened at Grand Cinema 7 at 3 pm. Where We Live is an entry from the US directed by Fady Hadid who was born and raised in Iraq. The film is about the Hadad family, who are forced to take asylum in the US following the violence in Iraq. It is a meditative journey defined by the most basic ideal – hope.
Also watch writer-dirctor Amer Alwan’s Goodbye Babylon about Sergeant Franck O’Farrell, who having served three years in Babylon realizes the true intent of the war, and through his interpreter discovers a different side of Iraq. He returns to New York but the ghosts of war return to haunt him.
GFF 2011 will be held at the InterContinental Hotel, Crowne Plaza and Grand Cinemas at Dubai Festival City. The Festival includes a Gulf competition, student competition, out-of-competition segments including children’s cinema, and other special events. All the 153 films from 31 nations screened at GFF 2011 until April 20 are free for entry for the public.
The Gulf Film Festival box office is open from 10.30 am to 10 pm daily at the Grand Cinemas Dubai Festival City. All patrons are welcome to up to two tickets per person on a first-come, first-served basis. The full schedule of films is also available online at www.gulffilmfest.com .
The Gulf Film Festival is supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority and is held in association with Dubai Studio City.