The 11th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival, the oldest Gulf State event of its kind, begins tomorrow, Wednesday, December 10, and runs for a week. This year’s festival has seen some radical changes due to budget constraints, largely reflected in the elimination of its co-production platform, as well as other perennial programs such as the Muhr Asia/Africa Awards section. As a whole, the event showcases a tighter line-up in 2014, including slightly fewer documentary features – 21 to last year’s 25. About a third of these are familiar from other festivals’ programming, while the remaining largely represent new regional work.
The Arabian Nights section includes Wafa Jamil’s COFFEE FOR ALL NATIONS, about a Palestinian man who opens a small coffee shop accessible to Palestinians and Israelis alike; and Takeharu Watai’s PEACE ON THE TIGRIS – IRAQ WAR AND 10 YEARS OF LIFE IN BAGHDAD, which follows the Japanese filmmaker as he tries to reunite with the Baghdad residents he filmed at the onset of the war in 2003; while the Cinema of the World’s doc offerings include Gautam Sonti and Usha Rao’s OUR METROPOLIS (pictured), chronicling Bangalore’s residents’ struggle against the forced development of their city.
Several nonfiction works are included in the Muhr Feature category: Reine Mitri’s IN THIS LAND LAY GRAVES OF MINE (pictured), an exploration of racial and religious territorialism in Lebanese land sales; Bassem Fayad’s DIARIES OF A FLYING DOG, about a Lebanese man and his dog, both with obsessive compulsive disorder; Hazem Alhamwi’s FROM MY SYRIAN ROOM, a personal reckoning with Syria’s 2011 civil war; Hind Shoufani’s TRIP ALONG EXODUS, about the filmmaker’s father, a 1970s Palestinian revolutionary; Salim Abu Jabal’s ROSHMIA, which follows the efforts of an elderly Palestinian couple to seek compensation for the forced relocation; and Nujoom Al Ghanem’s NEARBY SKY, the story of the struggle of the first female Emirati to enter her camel in the traditionally male-led camel beauty pageant.