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At Locarno Film Festival Israeli Palestinian Conflict Plays Out With Both Sides Seeking Attention

At Locarno Film Festival Israeli Palestinian Conflict Plays Out With Both Sides Seeking Attention
The Israeli Palestinian conflict looks set to play out in a spirit of competitive co-existence at the Locarno Film Festival where, despite tensions and the prospect of an Arab boycott, filmmakers from both sides will be in attendance, attesting the prominent role taken by the indie-centric Swiss event as propagator of all cinematographies with a special urgency.

Locarno’s announcement in April that Israel’s vibrant film industry would be the focus of its informal market’s Carte Blanche pics-in-post showcase, thanks to a partnership with the Israel Film Fund, sparked immediate protest and a petition with signatories such as Ken Loach, Jean-Luc Godard and Mira Nair alongside prominent Palestinian auteurs Elia Suleiman (“The Time That Remains”), Hany Abu-Assad (“Paradise Now”), Annemarie Jacir (“When I Saw You”) and many other prominent Arab filmmakers, including Egypt’s Khaled Abol Naga and Hala Lotfty.

They urged Locarno to drop the the Israel focus.
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Cairo Film Festival Gets New Top Management, Continues With Current Framework

Cairo Film Festival Gets New Top Management, Continues With Current Framework
The Cairo Film Festival is under new management with the appointment as president of Magda Wassef, former head of the Luxor fest, and of prominent film critic and academic Youssef Cherif Rizkallah as artistic director.

New toppers at Cairo have been installed by Egypt’s culture minister after the resignation late last year of esteemed veteran critic Samir Farid who cited health reasons for stepping down.

Farid successfully revamped the oldest film fest in the Middle East and Africa, giving it a new configuration, following a hiatus and downfall due to post-revolutionary turbulence. The new team, which has plenty of previous experience, seems to be talking its cue from his internationally well-received 36th edition.

The 37th edition of Cairo will run November 11-19, the same time slot Farid had moved into.

In addition to its international competition, Cairo will maintain the special sections introduced by Farid.

These are: Cairo’s
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Melbourne wins best picture in Cairo

Melbourne wins best picture in Cairo
The Cairo International Film Festival ended its 36th year with a glitzy ceremony [pictured] below the ancient pyramids on Tuesday.

In an attempt to move forward from previous years when films were overshadowed by protests, or when the festival was altogether cancelled in both 2011 and 2013 due to political upheaval, the Minister of Culture, Gaber Asfour announced “this festival is a fresh new start.”

From actresses Basma Hassan, Lyla Elwi and Ghada Abdel Razek, actors Mahmoud Hemida, Asser Yasin and Tamer Habib to filmmakers Mossad Fouda and Khaled Youssef, a bevy of Egypt’s notable talent were present to help celebrate the conclusion of the ten day event that opened on Nov 9 at the historic Citadel.

From the main sections Film on Films, Festival of Festivals, Special Presentations, International Competition - 45 films screened as Arab and African Premieres, 5 as World Premieres and 4 as International Premieres. Yousra headed the international competition jury, marking the first time the festival had both
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Film Review: ‘From A to B’

Film Review: ‘From A to B’
The formulaic qualities of the road movie are on display in “From A to B,” a sporadically amusing buddy pic that hits all the expected buttons. In his sophomore feature, helmer Ali F. Mostafa (“City of Life”) appears to be searching for a signature style, resulting in a visually uninteresting, narratively choppy film that would work better as a Web series, where various episodes could stand alone rather than be forced to sustain an entire movie. The plot, about three friends living in Abu Dhabi driving to Beirut, certainly has potential, and local play is likely to be strong, yet beyond A and B lies the empty quarter.

People familiar with the UAE’s privileged international lifestyle, heavily influenced by American consumerism and pop culture, will see much they recognize. P.E. instructor Omar (Fadi Rifaai) is in crisis: His wife, Arwa (Yosra El Lozy), is heavily pregnant, and he
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Film Review: ‘Decor’

Film Review: ‘Decor’
The classic “women’s picture,” demoted without due consideration in Hollywood filmmaking, gets a complex, vibrant reassessment in “Decor,” Egyptian director Ahmad Abdalla’s conceptually sophisticated fifth feature. Reflecting on a diverse swath of film history while painting a distinctly contemporary portrait of fractured female identity, this blithely self-reflexive melodrama centers on a put-upon production designer finding an alternative identity — or perhaps her original one — in the sudsy movie romance she’s reluctantly constructing. Though it pays extensive homage to the dramatic and stylistic conventions of vintage Egyptian cinema, “Decor” is far from esoteric: Shades of Sirk, Cassavetes, Bergman and even Woody Allen can all be detected on the film’s glistening monochrome surface. Slight overlength should not keep adventurous arthouse distribs from this sleek London festival premiere.

With its playful, literate screenplay by Sherin Diab and Mohamed Diab (the latter a writer-director celebrated for his 2010 festival hit “Cairo 678″), “Decor
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Abu Dhabi Fest Kicks Off Proudly With Emirati Road Pic ‘From A to B’

Abu Dhabi Fest Kicks Off Proudly With Emirati Road Pic ‘From A to B’
Abu Dhabi – The Abu Dhabi Film Festival kicked off on a proud note Thursday with Emirati helmer Ali Mostafa’s road movie “From A to B” world-preeming positively with a slew of Arab stars on the sumptuous Emirates Palace red carpet, kicking off a solid selection that mixes other Arab bows with the cream of the international fest crop.

Mostafa, Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy (“My Brother the Devil”) and his Lebanese partner Paul Baboudjian (“Here Comes the Rain”), plus thesps Fahad Albutrairi, Shadi Alfons, Fadi Rifaai, Abdul Mohsen El Nemer, Khaled Abol Naga and Samer Al Masri, pranced down the catwalk, marking the first time an Emirati pic opens the fest. Abu Dhabi is steadily upping its prominence within the Arab and global film industries.

From A to B,” which is about three Western-educated Arab youths who travel 1,500 miles from Abu Dhabi to Beirut in memory of their deceased best friend,
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Film Review: ‘Eyes of a Thief’

Film Review: ‘Eyes of a Thief’
A hodgepodge of plot points fail to gel in satisfying fashion in “Eyes of a Thief,” Palestinian helmer-writer Najwa Najjar’s follow-up to her acclaimed feature debut, “Pomegranates and Myrrh.” Sadly, this life-under-Occupation drama lacks the compelling characters and unity of tone that made the earlier film a standout, its balance and credibility further undermined by the celebrity casting of Egyptian thesp Khaled Abol Naga and Algerian thrush Souad Massi in leading roles. Nevertheless, Najjar’s reputation and the selection of the pic as Palestine’s foreign-language Oscar entry will lend it some traction on the festival circuit.

The main plot strand, set around 2012, centers on a man with a dark secret, hunky West Bank water engineer Tareq (Naga), whose accent is such that the other characters are constantly telling him, “You’re not from around here.” His backstory gradually unfolds through a series of poorly integrated flashbacks to 2002, when
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Palestine submits Eyes of a Thief to Oscars

Only the seventh time Palestine has submitted film to the Academy Awards.

The Palestinian Ministry of Culture has submitted Najwa Najjar’s Eyes of a Thief for consideration in the Best Foreign Language Film category of the Academy Awards.

The timely drama explores the impact of the Middle East conflict on Palestinian life through the tale of a West Bank man searching for his lost daughter following his release from an Israeli jail.

Egyptian actor Khaled Abol Naga, whose credits include Villa 69 and Microphone, plays the protagonist Tareq – an enigmatic figure with a violent past – opposite Algerian actress and singer Souad Massi, as a woman who knows the whereabouts of his child.

The film has drawn strong audiences in the West Bank and Jerusalem since its release there at the beginning of September.

“We had quite an overwhelming opening on September 9 at the Ramallah Cultural Palace. 850 people came to a space meant for 700,” Najjar told ScreenDaily
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Najwa Najjar locks West Bank film

Algerian singer Souad Massi and Egyptian Khaled Abol Naga co-star in film shot in West Bank city of Nablus.

Palestinian filmmaker Najwa Najjar has finished her timely drama Eyes Of A Thief exploring the impact of Israeli occupation on Palestinian life through the tale of a man searching for his lost daughter after his release from an Israeli jail.

Inspired by a real-life event that took place in 2002, at the height of the Second Palestinian Intifada and the Israeli incursion into the West Bank, the film moves back and forth between that period and contemporary Palestine.

It revolves around Tareq, an enigmatic figure harbouring a dark, violent secret returning to his hometown after serving 10 years in an Israeli jail.

He is desperate to find his daughter who disappeared during his absence. His search leads him to a young woman called Lila and also brings him up against the town’s self-imposed leader Adel, a man of
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Najwa Najjar locks West Bank drama Eyes Of A Thief

Algerian singer Souad Massi and Egyptian Khaled Abol Naga co-star in film shot in West Bank city of Nablus.

Palestinian filmmaker Najwa Najjar has finished her timely drama Eyes Of A Thief exploring the impact of Israeli occupation on Palestinian life through the tale of a man searching for his lost daughter after his release from an Israeli jail.

Inspired by a real-life event that took place in 2002, at the height of the Second Palestinian Intifada and the Israeli incursion into the West Bank, the film moves back and forth between that period and contemporary Palestine.

It revolves around Tareq, an enigmatic figure harbouring a dark, violent secret returning to his hometown after serving 10 years in an Israeli jail.

He is desperate to find his daughter who disappeared during his absence. His search leads him to a young woman called Lila and also brings him up against the town’s self-imposed leader Adel, a man of
See full article at ScreenDaily »

New $100,000 Prize For Arab Pics To Be Launched At Dubai Film Festival (Exclusive)

A new $100,000 prize for an Arab film in pre-production will be launched during the upcoming Dubai International Film Festival (Diff), financed by the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of the Interior.

The conspicuous prize – ­ consisting of enough cash to possibly jump start production of an Arab art film – is being called the Best Societal Screenplay Award. While exact criteria are still being decided, it will go to a project with a script that has elements that can inspire audiences to make their world a better place. The jury will be announced at a later date.

Eligible projects will be selected from either submitted projects or projects recommended by Diff which runs the Arab world’s only real film market (pictured). A call for entries is expected to be announced shortly.

“The Ministry of Interior wants to utilize the power that cinema can have on its audience,” the UAE interior ministry said in a statement.
See full article at Variety - Film News »

New Century plans Décor with Abdalla

  • ScreenDaily
New Century plans Décor with Abdalla
Exclusive: Cairo-based New Century Production is putting together an ambitious six-picture slate featuring some of Egypt’s leading veteran and independent filmmakers, including the next project from Rags And Tatters director Ahmad Abdalla.

Entitled Décor, the project is scripted by renowned Egyptian screenwriter Mohamed Diab, who previously wrote and directed award-winning sexual harassment drama 678. Khaled Abol Naga (Microphone, Villa 69) and Egyptian actress Horreya Farghaly will head the cast.

Scheduled to start shooting in the next few weeks, Décor marks the first big-budget production from Abdalla who has won acclaim for independent productions such as Heliopolis, Microphone and current Egyptian box office hit Rags And Tatters.

Abdalla plans to shoot Decor in black-and-white – the first time the format has been used in Egyptian cinema since Mohamed Fadel’s Nasser 56, about the late Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, in 1996.

New Century will also produce Abnormal Decisions – written and to be directed by veteran Egyptian filmmaker Daoud Abdel Sayed, whose
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Film Review: ‘Villa 69’

Film Review: ‘Villa 69’
An older, terminally ill man locks himself inside his home and memories in tyro helmer Ayten Amin’s “Villa 69,” a moody character study whose ambitions are partly outstripped by the crew’s relative inexperience. Atmosphere isn’t wanting, but the script would have benefited from a clearer narrative, which lacks the kind of structural solidity that would allow the subtle portraits to shine properly. Grounded in an indie aesthetic yet boasting major Egyptian stars, “Villa 69” won’t play beyond small niche audiences at home; offshore fest chances could improve with better subtitling. The special jury mention at the Abu Dhabi fest should get programmers’ attention.

Best known for her entry in the portmanteau docu “Tahrir 2011: The Good, the Bad, and the Politician,” Amin has made bold casting decisions here certain to generate discussion across the region. As the film’s protagonist, Khaled Abol Naga (also credited
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Jacki Weaver to lead Adff jury

  • ScreenDaily
Jacki Weaver to lead Adff jury
Silver Linings Playbook actress to lead Narrative Competition jury.

The juries of the 7th Abu Dhabi Film Festival (Oct 24-Nov 2) have been revealed.

The Narrative Competition jury president is Australian actress Jacki Weaver, best known for her Oscar-nominated performances in David Michôd’s Animal Kingdom and David O. Russell’s The Silver Linings Playbook.

Joining her on the jury are Israeli actress Hiam Abbass, chief executive of Film London and the British Film Commission Adrian Wootton, Tunisian producer Dora Bouchoucha and Sandra den Hamer, current CEO of Eye Film Institute Netherlands.

The New Horizons Competition jury is lead by Yeşim Ustaoğlu, director of Turkish drama Araf.

Ustaoğlu is assisted by Irene Bignardi, co-founder of daily newspaper La Repubblica and former director of the Locarno Film Festival (2000–05), Moroccan filmmaker Nour-Eddine Lakhmari, Ukrainian director Valery Todorovsky and Lebanese director Michel Kammoun.

President of the Documentary Competition is the co-director and artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival (Tiff
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Abu Dhabi Ff to honour Forest Whitaker

  • ScreenDaily
Abu Dhabi Ff to honour Forest Whitaker
Festival kicks off Thursday with gala screening of Daniel Schechter’s Life of Crime.

Forest Whitaker will be among the guests when the Abu Dhabi Film Festival kicks off Thursday evening. Whitaker will receive the festival’s Black Pearl Career Achievement award.

The festival will open with a gala screening of the Middle East premiere of Life of Crime with director Daniel Schechter and actor Mark Boone Junior both in attendance and participating in an audience Q&A.

Another career achievement award winner will be actress and director Hiam Abbass, who stars in festival world premiere Peace After Marriage.

International guests will include Danis Tanovic, Amma Asante, Jia Zhangke, Beeban Kidron, Emir Baigazin, Agnes B, Cedomir Kolar, Uberto Pasolini, Tao Zhao, Eugene Domingo, Louis Garrel, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Catherine Dussart.

Arab stars set to attend Adff include Mervat Amin, Hend Sabri, Ahmad Ezz, Basel Khayat, Eyad Nassar, Kinda Aloush, Abed Fahad, Manal Khader, Nesrine
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Abu Dhabi Film Festival to welcome Forest Whitaker

  • ScreenDaily
Abu Dhabi Film Festival to welcome Forest Whitaker
Festival kicks off Thursday with gala screening of Daniel Schechter’s Life of Crime.

Forest Whitaker will be among the guests when the Abu Dhabi Film Festival kicks off Thursday evening. Whitaker will receive the festival’s Black Pearl Career Achievement award.

The festival will open with a gala screening of the Middle East premiere of Life of Crime with director Daniel Schechter and actor Mark Boone Junior both in attendance and participating in an audience Q&A.

Another career achievement award winner will be actress and director Hiam Abbass, who stars in festival world premiere Peace After Marriage.

International guests will include Danis Tanovic, Amma Asante, Jia Zhangke, Beeban Kidron, Emir Baigazin, Agnes B, Cedomir Kolar, Uberto Pasolini, Tao Zhao, Eugene Domingo, Louis Garrel, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Catherine Dussart.

Arab stars set to attend Adff include Mervat Amin, Hend Sabri, Ahmad Ezz, Basel Khayat, Eyad Nassar, Kinda Aloush, Abed Fahad, Manal Khader, Nesrine
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Bhandarkar invited for Cairo film fest

Bhandarkar invited for Cairo film fest
New Delhi, Nov 27: Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar has been invited to join the international jury at the Cairo International Film Festival that starts Tuesday.

"I am delighted to be a part of the international jury for the 35th edition of Cairo International Film Festival. I love the theme that they have 'positive thinking, revolution and freedom'. This is an honour, which I humbly accept," Bhandarkar said in a statement.

The filmmaker will judge the international competition category of the film festival along with actor−producer Khaled Abol Naga (Egypt), director Babak Payami (Canada), actress Menna Chalabi (Egypt),.
See full article at RealBollywood »

Nd/Nf 2011 Review: Microphone

Watching Microphone now, which is basically a love letter to Alexandria, is all the more poignant considering what's been happening in Egypt for the last few months. Director Ahmad Abdalla succeeds in capturing the essence of the youth culture in the Egypt's second largest, cosmopolitan port city. This film was first conceived as a documentary- shot on HD with a small mobile crew. Then it later evolved into a narrative starring the TV/film superstar Khaled Abol Naga (who also serves as a producer) while keeping the small scale filmmaking intact. It features some of the best underground musicians and graffiti artists the sun drenched bustling Mediterranean city can offer.Khaled comes back after 7 years of living overseas. He finds that his old flame no longer...
See full article at Screen Anarchy »

NYC’s New Directors/New Films Festival Starts This Wednesday; Lineup Includes “Pariah,” “Black Power Mixtape” & More

Have you picked up your tickets yet?

It’s that time of the year, when the early film festivals debut/premiere some of the films that we’ll be talking about later on in the year.

Sundance, Berlin, Pan African, Fespaco, and South By Southwest Film Festivals are done! And this week, the 40th installment of the New Directors/New Films Film Festival here in New York City, begins!

Press screenings for the festival end today, and I saw around 10 films. I’ve already reviewed 4 or so of them, with another 5 or 6 reviews coming, today and tomorrow. I’ll also include a brief write-up of what to expect at the festival, films you should see, those that you could skip, etc… so stay tuned for that.

The lineup of the New Directors/New Films Film Festival follows below, and those of you who live in New York, or who are
See full article at ShadowAndAct »

Film Lineup for the 40th Annual New Directors/New Films Announced

The Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center Announce Feature Film Lineup for the 40th Annual New Directors/New Films March 23 . April 3

J.C. Chandor.s .Margin Call. is the Opening Night presentation with Maryam Keshavarz.s Award-winning .Circumstance. the Closing Night selection

The Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center announced the full lineup today for the 40th edition of New Directors/New Films (March 23 . April 3). Dedicated to the discovery of new works by emerging and dynamic filmmaking talent, the film festival will screen 28 feature films (24 narrative, 4 documentary) representing 22 countries.

The opening night feature is J.C. Chandor.s Margin Call. Screening on Wednesday, March 23, at 7:00Pm at MoMA, Chandor’s feature film directing debut is a timely and terrifying dramatic expose that tackles twenty-four hours on an investment bank trading floor; a day that brings layer upon layer of human and
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »
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