On Wednesday evening, the 14th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival begins its eight-day roll with Scott Cooper’s Western drama, Hostiles. The film features this year’s contribution to cinema by Christian Bale, who plays an army captain in charge of escorting a Native American chief back to his homeland.
The Western epic will no doubt whet the appetite of film fanatics coming from different parts of the world looking to consume as many features, shorts, and documentaries as possible, ranging from animations such as Ferdinand and Ana and Bruno to comedy gold like The Death Of Stalin and closer-to-home grown endeavours including Last Men in Aleppo. Oh, then there’s the closing night special, which, unless you’ve been living in a galaxy far, far away, you’ll know is Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
The two big-hitters this year are Sir Patrick Stewart and Irrfan Khan who will both receive achievement awards.
A whopping 140 movies from 51 countries will be screened over the next eight days. Of these titles, 50 will be world and international premieres, 59 will be seen for the first time in MENA region. This is undoubtedly impressive and will help Dubai fly higher.
Egypt is, as always, a prolific contributor to DIFF and many Arab film festivals. Two films directed and produced by Egyptians will be shown over the next few days. One of these films is Talq Senaey (Induced Labor), which tells the story of a couple who come up with a “splendid wheeze” when they decide to give birth at the US Embassy in hopes of securing their American citizenship. The film is written and directed by acclaimed Arab filmmaker Khaled Diab and his two siblings Mohamed Diab and Sherine Diab penning the screenplay alongside him. The film stars Horeya Farghaly, Maged Elkedwany, Abdelrahman Abo Zhra, Sayed Ragab, Mai Kassab, and Bayoumi Fouad.
Another Egyptian film is Balash Tbousny (Kiss Me Not) which has a very erratic, intriguing plot described as follows: “A mockumentary that follows a young and ambitious Egyptian director who faces issues while shooting a kissing scene in his new film with the leading actress Fajr who decides to pursue a more religious path.” The film is directed by Ahmed Amer, marking this films as his first feature as a writer/director. The film stars Yasmine Rais, Sawsan Badr, Mohamed Mahran, Aida Riad, Salwa Mohamed Ali.
Dubai has always made a special effort to be an effective platform for Arab cinema. This year is no exception. Fifty-nine productions from the Arab world will play across four competitions, spanning Arab, Gulf and short and feature formats, and two non-competitive sidebars.