October 1, 2008

MEIFF Brings to Abu Dhabi the Best Films From Festivals Around the World

The second edition of the Middle East International Film Festival (MEIFF), organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) announced today the selection of films to be shown in the "Festival of Festivals" and the "Environmental" programmes. They are considered by many to be the most exciting programmes taking place during MEIFF to be held in Abu Dhabi from 10th to 19th October 2008.

"This initiative is important in that it brings to the local community internationally renowned films. Of course, not everyone can attend all the world's film festivals to watch these films; but, at MEIFF, we believe that borders are no longer boundaries, and so we introduced the "Festival of Festivals" to enable cinema lovers to fulfil their passion in catching up with what they missed," said MEIFF Vice Chairman Mohamed Khalaf Al Mazrouei.

Over half of the 24 narrative films and documentaries to be screened in "Festival of Festivals" have won or were nominated for awards in the past year at film festivals in France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Mexico and the USA.

"With so many wonderful films playing at festivals around the world, MEIFF 2008 is endeavouring to present a unique combination of the year's top movies: a taste of the best," said Nashwa Al Ruwaini, Director of MEIFF highlighting the "Festival of Festivals" programme. "Nearly all of these selections have already won top prizes at international festivals. Whether you're seeking crowd favourites or critics' picks, this section has something for you," she added.

The films shown under this section are from a number of countries representing various cultures including Canada, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Australia, South Korea, India and Iran among many others. All films screened have been made by talented directors who didn't feel constrained by their countries' borders and have crossed cultural borders to represent all types of people and places. Some of the films have also been co-produced across countries, which has further enriched the variation of cultures represented. The films cover a variety of different themes; however, social issues have taken the lion's share.

"This quality and diverse intersection of established and emerging filmmakers helps to firmly establish MEIFF as top tier fest, amazing for a second year event. With the new Festival of Festivals section, we proudly bring a collection of Academy Award winning filmmakers, jury prize winners and crowd favorites to the Abu Dhabi audience", says Director of Programming Jon Fitzgerald.

Among the films to be shown in this section are: Two-Legged Horse, an Iranian production directed by Samira Makhmalbaf about a wealthy boy in Afghanistan who hires a poor child to carry him around like a horse; The Smell of Apples, a 2007 Iraqi-German co-production directed by Ravin Asaf about a group of people in Iraqi Kurdistan suffering from the consequences of a poison gas attack 20 years earlier; Standard Operating Procedure, the controversial American film by director Errol Morris centring around the photographs that were taken in Abu Ghraib prison and their consequences; the Russian film called Wild Field by Dikoye Polye about a young Russian doctor living in an isolated village, and many more.

Highlighting the "Environmental Films" programme at the event, Nashwa said that it showcases films whose themes are about the environment and humanity's place in the world. "The inclusion of this section has been launched in conjunction with the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi. It is inspired by Abu Dhabi's dedication to preserving the environment and its wildlife as it has been working on a number of initiatives over the past few years among which is MASDAR and the Ecological Footprint of the UAE, " Nashwa explained.

The programme has been programmed in conjunction with Wildscreen from the UK, a charity dedicated to promoting endangered species through film and still images. Wildscreen will also be screening one of MEIFF's films 'Saving Luna' at its own Festival this year.

Seven films from the UAE, Canada, USA , UK and France will be screened under this programme including all types of films, documentaries, animation, and narrative. The films to be screened are THE ORYX: FREED SPIRIT OF THE DESERT (UAE) directed by Bader Ben Hirsi. The "freed spirit of the desert" is the only way to describe this fascinating story about the Arabian Oryx and the captive breeding programme established 35 years ago by the late ruler of Abu Dhabi, HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Among the three American films participating at this programme is FLOW: FOR THE LOVE OF WATER (USA) directed by Irena Salina which examines the precarious condition of the world's water supply and reveals a mounting international crisis.

SAVING LUNA (Canada) directed by Suzanne Chisholm, Michael Parfit introduces "Luna", a young Orca whale, which turned up one day in Nootka Sound near Vancouver, British Columbia. He played with boats, logs, people, and the community quickly fell in love with him.

WHITE FALCON, WHITE WOLF (UK) a BBC production produced by Fergus Beeley. On Canada's remote Ellesmere Island the race is on for two remarkable species to raise their families.

"We believe that these two programs will add to the rich cultural profile of Abu Dhabi and we are confident that, along with the other many activities being held during the event, we will manage to captivate many more visitors and tourists alike," Al Ruwaini concluded.

Festival of Festival Films:

14 Kilometres (Spain) directed by Gerardo Olivares

A Christmas Tale (France) directed by Arnaud Desplechin

Adoration (Canada) directed by Atom Egoyan

Amal (Canada) directed by Richie Mehta

Cherry Blossoms: Hanami (Germany) directed by Doris Dorrie

Disgrace (Australia, South Africa) directed by Steve Jacobs

Dunya and Desie (Netherlands) directed by Dana Nehustan

Football Undercover (Germany) directed by David Assmann and Ayat Najafi

Frozen River (USA) directed by Courtney Hunt

Let the Right One In (Sweden) directed by Tomas Alfredson

Maradona (Spain, France) directed by Emir Kusturica

Moscow, Belgium (Belgium) directed by Christophe van Rompaey

Pray the Devil Back to Hell (USA) directed by Gini Reticker

Quiet Chaos (Italy) directed by Antonello Grimaldi

Rumba (Belgium, France) directed by Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy

Sleep Dealer (USA, Mexico) directed by Alex Rivera

Standard Operating Procedure (USA) directed by Errol Morris

The Prisoner (India) directed by Sunil Doshi

The Shaft (China) directed by Zhang Chi

The Smell of Apples (Iraq, Germany) directed by Ravin Asaf

The Wackness (USA) directed by Jonathan Levine

Two-Legged Horse (Iran) directed by Samira Makhmalbaf

Wild Field (Russia) directed by Mikhail Kalatozishvili

Written (South Korea) directed by Kim Byung Woo

Environmental Films:

Flow: For the Love of Water (USA) directed by Irena Salina

Saving Luna (Canada) directed by Suzanne Chisholm and Michael Parfit

Terra (USA) directed by Aristomenis Tsirbas

That Should Not Be (France) directed by Jean-Paul Jaud

The Oryx: Freed Spirit of the Desert (UAE) directed by Bader Ben Hirsi

Under Our Skin (USA) directed by Andy Abrahams Wilson

White Falcon, White Wolf (UK) directed by Fergus Beeley

About MEIFF:

MEIFF, held in Abu Dhabi, is an annual event and a project of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH). The Festival is a cultural event dedicated to bringing a diverse slate of international films and programs to the community and introducing filmmakers from around the world to the resources of the region. This year's MEIFF will see several new additions to an already exciting schedule. For the first time, there will be a section of the Festival concentrating on Environmental Films as well as a showcase of documentaries highlighting the 60 years since the division of Palestine and various high-profile industry initiatives.

For press queries, High res images and more information, please e-mail [email protected]