UAE: Arab cinema takes center stage at Gulf Film Fest

Four Italian productions to be screened

11 April, 18:26

    Saudi director Haifaa Al Mansour Saudi director Haifaa Al Mansour

    (ANSAmed) - DUBAI - Arab cinema is making a comeback with the Gulf Film Festival. The event kicks off this evening in Dubai.

    The week of screenings, debates and workshops will be opened by the film Wadjda, an internationally successful film by the Saudi director Haifaa Al Mansour.

    The film does not only tell the tale of a young girl who falls in love with a bicycle she can't ride, a metaphor for the situation in which women in the conservative Saudi kingdom find themselves in, but is also remarkable for having been the first film entirely shot and produced in Saudi Arabic - where cinemas do not even exist - and, also for the first time ever, was made by a woman. The 'seed' for the film, note the organizers, was planted during the 2008 edition of the GFF. In its sixth edition, the festival will be screening 163 films from 43 countries, 93 of which produced in Gulf kingdoms: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Italy will also be present, with four works: the short films 'La Storia di Sonia' by Lorenzo Guarnieri, Diego Dada's 'Cantarella', Pierluca di Pasquale's 'Zini e Ami' and the co-production with Kuwait, the UAE and Iraq 'Sta per Piovere', the story of an Algerian immigrant to Italy and his half-Italian, Half-North African children. ''We are pleased and proud that this year the festival has included Italy and has selected the works from a purely artistic standpoint, instead of just looking at how successful they were,'' said Cultural Attache' for the Gulf Area Alessandra Priante, who over the past two years has done painstaking work to raise awareness about Italian culture. Bearing witness to a film industry ever more mature in both quality and quantity are a large number of films from the UAE, with Qatar making a good showing as well. Bahrain has fewer films on this year's line-up and is still feeling the effects of its own Arab Spring. Kuwait is paying homage to Mohammad Al Jaber this year, considered one of the founding fathers of the Gulf film industry, while Iraqi films focus on three main issues: Iraqis who have never left their country, expatriates and Kurds. Oman and Yemen instead have fewer films to their names at this year's edition, even though the latter country balances out its small number of feature films with a large number of high-quality documentary ones, said Masoud Amralla Al Ali, the festival's artistic director. He felt it important to note that almost all of them were made by women directors. (ANSAmed).

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