Inspiring true stories of personal, societal struggles take centrestage in DIFF’s Muhr Asia Africa Documentary segment

Press release
Published December 4th, 2011 - 06:09 GMT

Ten unforgettable, inspiring true stories of men and women around the world who confront tremendous hardships, champion societal causes and ideological struggles, will screen to UAE audiences next month as part of the eighth Dubai International Film Festival’s Muhr AsiaAfrica Documentary competition.

The films, including one world premiere and nine regional premieres, are among the newest works from China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, South Korea, South Africa and Germany and will screen from December 7 to 14. The Festival is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.

Making its world premiere at DIFF 2011 is Indonesian director Shalahuddin Siregar’s The Land Beneath the Fog, about how changes in nature and climate affect human relationships in Genikan, a hidden village by a forest in central Java. The film follows a family who are faced with a failed harvest and other cataclysmic changes, and how they attempt to survive.

The line-up also includes two films each from India and Japan. From India, Sandeep Ray’s Sound of Old Rooms chronicles the life experiences of Sarthak, a poet living in Kolkata, from a college student to a father and how this ordinary man tries to hold on to his calling of being a poet while juggling a regular family in the new India.

Controversial Indian filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, best known for his political documentaries, returns with Jai Bhim Comrade. Filmed over 14 years, the film explores the history of Dalit activism in Maharashtra in the aftermath of the killing of 10 activists. The film follows the music and the tradition of Vilas Ghogre, a leftist poet and singer, who hung himself in protest.

Death of a Japanese Salesman by Japanese filmmaker Mami Sunada, is a heartwarming film that follows the last months of a Japanese salesman, who is diagnosed with terminal cancer soon after retiring. The film is made by his daughter.

Yoko Ide’s Shoji and Takao, meanwhile, is the story of two men who spent 29 years behind bars on charges of burglary and murder before finally being acquitted this year. The film is the record of the men, who refused to give up hope, even in the toughest of times, and the people who supported them. Both films make their Middle East Premiere at DIFF 2011.

This is Not a Film, by Iranian filmmakers Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and Jafar Panahi, is a gripping docudrama following the imprisonment of Panahi, the internationally renowned neo-realist filmmaker who won the Camera d’Or at Cannes in 1995 for his debut film, The White Balloon, and the Golden Lion at Venice for The Circle.

From South Africa, director Khalid Shamis’ Imam and I, follows the heroic trail of Imam Abdullah Haron, the famous Muslim anti-apartheid leader and icon for peace and freedom following his death in prison. The film is made by his grandson.

Meanwhile, South Korean filmmaker Seung-Jun Yi’s tender Planet of Snail, is the award-winning story on the life of Young-Chan, who has been deaf and blind since childhood. Young-Chan has no idea how to participate in the world until he meets Soon-Ho, who also has a physical handicap. Together, the couple learns to communicate with the outside world by tapping each other’s fingers.

From China, acclaimed director Yu Guangyi returns with the outstanding Bachelor Mountain, the third in his documentary trilogy that included Timber Gang and Survival Song. The film examines the life and impossible love of a hardscrabble logger and labourer working in China’s Changbai Mountains where men are beasts of burden up for hire who battle the elements for survival.

Finally, Branwen Okpako’s Education of Auma Obama, narrates the life and times of Auma Obama, as depicted from her from homestead in Kenya, during the US presidential election of 2008 that brought her half-brother Barack Obama to power. The film will make its GCC Premiere at DIFF.

Nashen Moodley, Director of the Asia Africa Programme for DIFF, said: “Documentaries are a reflection of social realities. Our documentary showcase this year captures the aspirations and dilemma faced by the people in Asia and Africa; these films are inspiring, evocative and present vignettes of life in two of the world’s largest continents, as never seen before.”

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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