The Dubai International film festival of 2012 has been hosted Dec. 9-16, and this year the festival focused on massive treasure trove of new talent from the Middle East, Africa, and beyond, according to Filmmaker Mag.
This year’s programming welcomed 70 Arab cinema films, which explored such topics as war, protest, revolution, along with romantic comedies and children movies.
One of the highlights of the festival was the film “Wadjda”, the first feature film completely made in Saudi Arabia, which was directed by a female filmmaker, Haifaa Al Mansour.
It took Al Mansour around 5 years to make the film, which took honors of Middle Eastern premiere, getting both Muhr Arab Best Film and Best Actress awards.
The film told a story of a 10-year old girl, who challenges the conservative conventions of her country by aspiring to buy a green bicycle, although it’s forbidden for women to ride one. Wadjda dreams of racing her friend Abdullah, but also of finding happiness in a world where she is constantly told to conform against her own nature.
Another film takes us back to the regime of Saddam Hussain in the early 90’s. Karzan Kader’s “Bekas” tells the tale of two young Iraqi Kurds, orphaned and homeless, whi are inspired to find their way to America after sneaking into a screening of “Superman”. The film earned the Dubai Expo 2020 People’s Choice award.
Another notable film is an adaptation of a controversial novel by Algerian writer Yasmina Khadra. Ziad Doueiri’s “The Attack” tells a story of a Palestinian surgeon working in Israel, whose wife’s sudden suicide bomb attack kills 17 people. What follows is a journey of grief and outrage as he struggles to uncover his wife’s motives.
With the concurrent Dubai Film Market, the city is taking the lead in developing the film industry in the Gulf Region and bringing new Arab voices to the screen.
In November it has been unveiled that some 15 projects from Arab filmmakers are slated for this year’s co-production market the Dubai Film Connection.
Since the Dubai Film Connection was launched, 30 projects have been completed and 13 are in various stages of production.
The projects will vie for more than $100,000 in award money and partnership opportunities, with the aim of helping the scripts reach the screen.
The Dubai Filmmart offered buyers films at their fingertips with a digital screening system via Cinetech. And for the first time, sales agents with films playing were allowed to showcase up to three other films they represented, suggesting a bid to compete with other global film markets.
The Dubai Film Connection brought a feature film and co-production market to the festival, connecting Arab filmmakers with global industry professionals with the goal of increasing production in the region.
2013 marks the 10th anniversary of the Dubai International Film Festival, and it’s sure to be a year filled with some giant surprises at the road where Arab cinema and Hollywood meet.
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