Dubai International Film Festival, US Mission to UAE bring best of American Documentary Showcase to four Emirates

Press release
Published September 25th, 2011 - 06:20 GMT
We Still Live Here Film
We Still Live Here Film

The Dubai International Film Festival, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, is partnering with the American Mission to the UAE to present eight powerful documentaries from the American Documentary Showcase to audiences across the emirates. All screenings are free of charge and open to the public.

The showcase, an array of award-winning contemporary American documentaries, offers an uncommon view of American society and culture as seen by its independent filmmakers. The films explore diverse topics from civil rights, the loss of native cultures and the difficulties experienced by immigrants, to slam poetry, wildlife and education.

The eight films will screen at Grand Cinemas, Abu Dhabi Mall on September 30 and October 1 and in Dubai’s VOX Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates from October 6 to 8, 2011, and include: Louder Than A Bomb; No Subtitles Necessary: László and Vilmos; A Village Called Versailles; One Lucky Elephant; Corner Plot; Freedom Riders; We Still Live Here and The Lottery. During the week, filmmakers from the showcase will also visit UAE universities in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai to conduct workshops.

U.S. Ambassador to the UAE Michael H. Corbin said, “I would like to thank the Dubai International Film Festival for its partnership in bringing the 2011 American Documentary Showcase to the UAE.  I am confident that these award-winning films will highlight many illuminating aspects of American society and culture to audiences across the UAE and further strengthen cultural cooperation between our two countries.”

DIFF Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali said: “Since it inception eight years ago, the Dubai International Film Festival has championed the concept of bridging cultures and meeting minds through cinema. The American Documentary Showcase is an opportunity to expand the cultural conversation by enabling audiences in the UAE to see different perspectives of the United States through uncommon, real stories told by its own people.”  

“Our partnership with the American Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the U.S. Consulate in Dubai is part of our commitment to bring contemporary, insightful and thought-provoking cinema experiences to the UAE public,” he added.

Showcase opener Louder Than A Bomb, by directors Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel, features four Chicago high school poetry teams as they prepare for and compete in the world's largest youth poetry slam. By turns hopeful and heartbreaking, the film captures their tempestuous lives, exploring the ways writing shapes their world, and vice versa. The film is an award winner at the Chicago International Film Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival, Philadelphia Film Festival, and the Palm Springs Film Festival, among others.

No Subtitles Necessary: László and Vilmos, is a portrait of two of the world’s most renowned cinematographers: László Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond, who fled the political revolution in Hungary with smuggled footage from war-torn Budapest and grew to help create an artistic revolution in world cinema. The film is told through more than 300 film clips, screen tests and outtakes interwoven with conversations with peers including Martin Scorsese, Peter Fonda and Sandra Bullock. The film has won top laurels at Santa Fe Film Festival, Lake Arrowhead Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival, LA Greek Film Festival, and New Orleans Film Festival.

The empowering story of a tight-knit group of Vietnamese Americans in the city of New Orleans, Leo Chiang’s A Village Called Versailles depicts the fight of people that have already endured plenty of pain and suffering in their lifetime. Just when things are about to fall into place in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the people of Versailles find themselves facing another threat – a new government-imposed toxic landfill, just miles from their homes. Without losing hope, the people of Versailles strive to fight against the system, turning devastation into a catalyst for change.

Lisa Leeman’s One Lucky Elephant follows the deep relationship between circus producer David Balding and Flora, the orphaned African elephant he welcomes into his family and his circus. However, as Flora grows older, she loses her zest to perform and begins acting out towards David. A nine-year long odyssey to find Flora a good home unfolds, yet, neither David nor Flora can part ways due to their relationship. The film explores the unintended consequences of raising a wild animal in captivity.

We Still Live Here, from director Anne Makepeace, follows the fortunes of the Wampanoag nation of southeastern Massachusetts, who helped the first white settlers in America survive but eventually lost their own culture. The film tells the story of the return of the Wampanoag Indian language. No one alive still spoke it until it was revived by one indomitable linguist.

In a country where 58 percent of African-American 4th graders are functionally illiterate, Madeline Sackler’s The Lottery explains the failures of the traditional public school system and reveals that hundreds of thousands of parents attempt to leave the system every year. The film follows four families from Harlem and the Bronx who have entered their children in a charter school lottery. Out of thousands of hopefuls, only a small minority will win the chance of a better future.

Corner Plot, a short film from directors Andre Dahlman and Ian Cook, explores one man’s steadfast authenticity in a changing world: In this case, that of 89-year-old Charlie Koiner, who continues to work a one-acre piece of farmland amid the tangle of commuter traffic, shopping malls and office buildings that make up the Washington DC Beltway. 

Last but not least, Freedom Riders by director Stanley Nelson is the first feature-length film about a courageous band of civil rights activists who challenged segregation in interstate transport in the American South during the spring and summer of 1961. The attention the movement generated caused the federal government to take down Jim Crow signs of “whites only” and “colored only,” allowing all citizens to travel freely.

In addition to the screenings for public, DIFF and the American Mission to the UAE have also organized a series of workshops and screenings at universities in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, with John Farbrother, editor of Louder Than A Bomb and Blake Ashman-Kipervaser, producer of The Lottery.

Working in cooperation with public and private partners across the UAE, the U.S. Mission to the UAE, consisting of the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai, supports a range of programs reflecting the depth and breadth of the U.S.-UAE diplomatic relationship.

The eighth edition of the Dubai International Film Festival will be held from December 7 to 14, 2011. DIFF is held in association with Dubai Studio City. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah, the home of the Dubai International Film Festival, are the principal sponsors of DIFF. The Festival is supported by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.

Background Information

Dubai International Film Festival

DIFF 365 Brought Film Fans a Cinematic Journey All Year Round

With a dedicated screening destination at VOX Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, the initiative brought the very best of independent cinema to film fans 365 days a year.

DIFF 365 championed films that entertained, challenged and expanded film fans perspectives. Independent films that might not traditionally be released at cinemas across the UAE and celebrated talent outside of the big studio releases were presented throughout the initiative’s run in 2017 and 2018.

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