Dabba, Monsoon Shootout and Katiyabaaz sparkle at Dubai Film Festival
Dubai’s Celebration of Indian Cinema section partly reflects growing Indian talent, as well as appeals to a substantial Indian and south Asian population in Dubai and the UAE. There is a rich harvest of eight Indian films at Dubai this year.
Mumbai: The Dubai International Film Festival is pulling out all the stops as it celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. The festival, that runs from December 6-14, has a strong selection of 174 features, documentaries and shorts from 57 nations, including 100 films from the Arab world.
Opening film is the outstanding Omar, by Hany Abu-Assad, which won a Jury Prize in Cannes‘ Un Certain Regard this year, and is Palestine’s Oscar entry. It is a heartbreaking love story, underlining how Israeli occupation rends Palestinian society. Abu-Assad, who earlier earned an Oscar nomination and won the Golden Globe for Paradise Now, will attend with his cast, including the very sexy Adam Bakri.
The film was backed by Enjaaz, the Dubai film festival’s production and post-production funding support programme. The closing film, American Hustle by David O Russell, stars Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro. Among the premium festivals in the Middle East, Dubai—one of the United Arab Emirates’ seven emirates — has been increasingly emphasising the arts, film, culture and museums—and related markets.
It would be hard to find an international film festival of this calibre that includes a regular showcase for Indian films as well. Dubai’s Celebration of Indian Cinema section partly reflects growing Indian talent, as well as appeals to a substantial Indian and south Asian population in Dubai and the UAE. There is a rich harvest of eight Indian films at Dubai this year.
These include Ritesh Batra’s Dabba (in the Muhr Asia-Africa Competition), and Amit Kumar’s Monsoon Shootout, both of which have been acclaimed at festivals worldwide. But Dubai also scored in getting three Indian world premieres—Shaji Karun’s Swapaanam (The Voiding Soul, Malayalam), Suman Mukhopadhyay’s Shesher Kobita (The Last Poem, Bengali) and Madhureeta Anand’s Kajarya (Hindi).
There are two good documentaries, Fahad Mustafa and Deepti Kakkar’s superb Katiyabaaz (Powerless) on a Kanpur power thief, and Surabhi Sharma’s Bidesia in Bambai on Mumbai’s Bhojpuri music underbelly. And the delightful World of Goopi and Bagha, a children’s animation feature film by Shilpa Ranade, produced by the Children’s Film Society of India.
Moreover, Camp ka Champ, a documentary by Mahmoud Kaabour, Lebanese documentary-maker and long-term UAE resident, focuses on a popular Bollywood singing competition, attended mainly by Indians and South Asians living in Dubai’s labour camps.
American actor Martin Sheen (Apocalpyse Now, The Departed) and veteran Egyptian film critic Samir Farid will be honoured with Lifetime Achievement Awards on opening night. Hollywood stars slated to attend the festival include Cate Blanchett, Head of the Jury for the IWC Filmmaker Award, Michael B Jordan (Fruitvale Station), and those attending film screenings, including Saving Mr Banks, featuring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, August: Osage County (Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts) and Labor Day (Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin). The Bollywood stars due to attend include Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor (Gunday), Irrfan Khan, Nawazuddin Siddique and Nimrat Kaur (Dabba), Shekhar Kapur, Rahul Bose, Sanjay Suri, Jaaved Jaffrey and Malayali star Jayaram.
Meenakshi Shedde is India Consultant to the Berlin and Dubai Film Festivals and Curator to festivals worldwide. Her email is email@example.com.