The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) announced the first round of handpicked titles from across the globe that will form part of the 2016 ‘Cinema of the World’ line-up. Fifty of the world’s most anticipated films are expected to impress the thousands of cinema lovers that descend on Dubai for the Festival. ‘Cinema of The World’ boasts a variety of genres that feature internationally famed talent including highly acclaimed actors, renowned directors, writers and producers.
The first film to be confirmed is renowned British director Otto Bell. Famed for his documentary work, Bell returns to the genre with ‘The Eagle Huntress’. Aisholpan is a 13-year-old Mongolian girl determined to stake her claim in the male-dominated tradition of eagle hunting amongst the Altai mountain community. Faced with gruelling training and cultural obstacles, this mesmerising true story about family, tradition and courage follows her journey to become the first female eagle huntress in 2,000 years.
French-Malian director Daouda Coulibaly brings to DIFF a sinister tale pulled from the streets of Mali with the debut of his first feature film ‘Wulu’. Working in the heart of nation’s bustling capital, Ladji feels trapped in a cycle of poverty – yearning for a better life and, above all, to break his sister away from prostitution. His desperation turns reckless when a risky career opportunity promises him luxuries beyond his imagination, but the danger of its path might be more than he can handle.
‘The Teacher’ addresses timeless moral dilemmas with a dramatic story from Czech director Jan Hřebejk. Life has turned upside down for the students and parents of a Bratislavan suburb since the arrival of new teacher Miss Drazdechova. Her corrupted practices are brought to a head after the suicide attempt of one of the students, and the principal and wider community are determined to solve the crisis. However, when the time comes, fear of the manipulative woman’s close ties to the Communist Party may sway the group’s resolve.
Critically acclaimed Australian filmmaker Ivan Sen, known for his fresh look at the struggles of Australia’s indigenous population, joins the lineup with his crime thriller ‘Goldstone’. The film follows Jay Swan, an Aboriginal police detective sent to investigate a missing person’s report in the frontier town of Goldstone. Against his own personal struggles and issues with the local police, Jay must rise above and reinforce the law when the ‘routine duty’ soon leads to web of corruption and crime.
American director Nate Parker is set to bring an incredibly moving period drama to this year’s ‘Cinema of The World’ category. Parker uses film as a platform to inspire audiences and protest against global injustices and returns in true form with ‘The Birth of a Nation’, based on a real life story. The gripping film tells the tale of Nat Turner, an educated slave who is made aware of the extent of slavery and decides to use his position as a preacher to lead his people to rebellion.
Joining Parker in tackling the history of the United States is acclaimed director Jeff Nichols with the historical drama ‘Loving’. An inspiring biopic celebrating the power of love and commitment, ‘Loving’ follows the legal and emotional journey of Richard and Mildred Loving who, after breaching a Virginia law that prohibits interracial marriage, take their case to the highest realm with the Supreme Court in the racially charged atmosphere of 1967.
The premiere of ‘Wolf And Sheep’ marks the arrival of promising new talent with Shahrbanoo Sadat’s first feature film drawn from her childhood in Afghanistan. The heartfelt story follows the isolated lives of two 11-year-old Afghan children, Sediqa and Qodrat, living within a confined village. Rejected by the community and frequent targets for humiliation, the children try to escape the daily torment and meet by chance one day in the secluded mountains surrounding the village, and an unlikely alliance is formed.
Singaporean filmmaker Junfeng Boo brings a tense story on justice and humanity to DIFF’s screens with his drama ‘Apprentice’. Following Aiman, a 28-year-old Malay prison officer alone in the world except for his older sister, the film delves into the conscience and duty surrounding the world of a prison executioner. After striking up an unlikely friendship with the prison’s chief executioner, Rahim, Aiman’s haunting past is revealed as he soon finds himself in line to become his new apprentice.
Joining Boo is the premiere of ‘After The Storm’, a moving family drama by celebrated Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-Eda. Ryota, a divorced, formerly successful author, clings to the hope of regaining his family. After alienating his relationships and squandering his wealth on gambling, Ryota attempts to rebuild his family ties after the death of his father. Ryota must let go of the past and focus on the future if only for the sake of his young son.
‘Like Crazy’, from Italian director Paolo Virzi, is set to be one of this year’s most acclaimed exports. The touching story follows two very different women, Beatrice, a disillusioned power-hungry fantasist, and Donatella, a feeble, emotional wreck, who forge a comedy duo as they break free from their psychiatric institution. DIFF’s audiences will be moved by this erratic though loving friendship as the women support each other in their search for happiness.
Bulgarian filmmaker’s Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov join the lineup with a socio-political masterpiece of corruption in ‘Glory’. Low paid railroad worker Tsanko Petrov faces a potentially life-changing opportunity when he finds millions of banknotes on the track. However, his actions following the discovery leave him torn between the two worlds of hardworking employees and fraudulent authorities as they begin to collide.
Romanian filmmaker Cristi Puiu has created an intense scenario in ‘Sieranevada’ centred around a family gathering to mourn the recent passing of a close family member. However the occasion does not pan out as smoothly as expected. Tensions and emotions rise as twisted secrets simmer into an argumentative, claustrophobic family outbreak as the truth surfaces.
Celebrated Polish director Andrzej Wajda brings a passionate biopic that will touch on the deep emotions of DIFF’s audiences with the masterpiece that is ‘Afterimage’. The film follows the decaying life of a brave and inspirational contemporary artist who refuses to sacrifice his artistic freedom against the forceful power of the communist regime. However over time, agonising compromises have to be made as the pressures begin to cause tragedy and humiliation in his strained world.
The final film to be added to the ‘Cinema of the World’ lineup in this round of announcements is Mexican filmmaker and DIFF alumna, Trisha Ziff, with her biopic on renowned photographer Enrique Metinides, ‘The Man Who Saw Too Much’. Metinides and his contemporaries opened a new door onto the crime-ridden world of Mexico City with their photography. Ziff takes a closer look at this coverage to ask whether it was merely documenting the truth of city life, or a reflection of our own fascination with death and morbidity.
DIFF’s Artistic Director, Masoud Amralla Al Ali, spoke on the exceptional line-up of films selected for this year’s ‘Cinema of the World’ programme. “We are committed to bridging cultures through the medium of cinema and no more can that be seen than through the Cinema of the World section of the Festival. The diverse perspectives and experiences shared by this stellar line-up, including some of the most highly anticipated films of the year from across the globe, will take our audiences to places they have never seen, opening up new cultural understanding along the way.”
Nashen Moodley, Director of the programme, commented on the diverse lineup: “We scour the globe each year to ensure the best and most diverse films are brought to DIFF for its audiences to enjoy. ‘Cinema of the World’ is a core part of the Festival’s offering of awe-inspiring journeys that everyone can enjoy.”
The 13th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival will take place from the December 7th– 14th, 2016.