Weinstein, Haggis to give special presentations

Harvey Weinstein and Paul Haggis have been added to the increasingly high-powered lineup at Abu Dhabi’s inaugural Middle East Film Festival, set to unspool Oct. 14-19.

Weinstein will launch the fest’s Film Financing Circle, Oct. 15-17, with a keynote presentation on the state of international co-productions.

Haggis, whose Iraq drama “In the Valley of Elah” is one of the fest’s special presentations, will deliver a master class for aspiring Arab filmmakers.

Other newly confirmed attendees include Relativity Media CEO Ryan Kavanaugh, BBC Films senior legal and business affairs manager Isabel Begg and Warner Independent Pictures senior VP of production and acquisitions Paul Federbush.

Abu Dhabi officialsrecently inked a multibillion-dollar deal with Warner Bros. that includes a $500 million film fund and $500 million vidgame fund and will see the construction of WB-licensed multiplexes, a hotel and theme park in Abu Dhabi (Daily Variety, Sept. 27).

The Abu Dhabi Media Co., one of the partners in the WB deal, is also sponsoring a $100,000 cash prize at the fest for up-and-coming Emirati filmmakers.

Fest organizers also announced the lineup of Middle East films playing at the fest, with 31 features, shorts and docs from across the region in various sidebars such as Middle East Spotlight, Arab Women Directors and GCC Films.

FICTION COMPETITION
 
Ben X, dir Nic Balthazar (Belgium). 
Caramel, dir Nadine Labaki (France/Lebanon)
The Counterfeiters, dir Stefan Ruzowitzky (Germany/Austria)
Echo, dir Anders Morgenthaler (Denmark)
The Good Night, dir Jake Paltrow (USA/United Kingdom)
Grace Is Gone, dir James Strouse (USA)
La Zona, dir Rodrigo Plá (Spain/Mexico)
Lucky Miles, dir Michael James Rowland (Australia)
The Milky Way, dir Lina Chamie (Brazil)
Not By Chance, dir Philippe Barcinski (Brazil)
The Owl And The Sparrow, dir Stephane Gauger (United States/Vietnam)
Persepolis, dir Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud (France)

DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
 
Hear And Now, dir Irene Taylor Brodsky (USA)
I Love Hip Hop In Morocco, dir Joshua Asen And Needleman (Morocco/USA)
New Year Baby, dir Socheata Poeuv (USA/ Cambodia)
The Power Of The Game, dir Michael Apted (USA)
Salata Baladi, dir Nadia Kamel (Egypt/France/Switzerland) 
We Are Together, dir Paul Taylor (United Kingdom)
 
SHORTS COMPETITION
 
And Life Went On, dir Maryam Mohajer (United Kingdom)
Aquarium, dir Rob Meyer (USA)
Avatar, dir Lluis Quilez (Spain)
Bawke, dir Hisham Zaman (Norway)
Bende Sira (It’s My Turn), dir Ismet Ergün (Germany/Turkey)
The Brass Teapot, dir Ramaa Mosley (USA)
Hoy No Estoy, dir Gustavo Taretto (Argentina)
I Met the Walrus, dir Josh Raskin (Canada)
I Want To Be a Pilot, dir Diego Quemada-Diez (Kenya/Mexico/Spain)
Juanito Bajo El Naranjo (Juanito Under the Orange Tree), dir Juan Carlos Villamizar (Colombia)
Kemo Sabe, dir Rana Kazkaz (USA)
Lightning Doodle Project Pikapika, dir Takeshi Nagata, Kazue Monno (Japan)
The Luminary, dir Nicholas Kallincos (Australia)
Manon on the Pavement, dir Elizabeth Marre, Olivier Pont (France)
The Phone Keeper, dir Stine Michelsen (USA)
The Tale of How, dir Ree Treweek, Marcus Smit (South Africa)
Tanghi Argentini, dir Guy Thuys (Belgium)
Tatoo, dir Parviz Safadel (USA)

MIDDLE EAST SPOTLIGHT

Shadow of Silence (Dhalal Al Samt), dir Abdullah Al Muheisen (Saudi Arabia)
Crossing the Dust (Parinawa La Ghobar), dir Shawkat Amin Korki (Kurdistan-Iraq)
The Dawn (Al Boom), dir Khalid Al-Zadjali (Oman)
Desert Heat, dir John Hollingsworth (UAE)
From Within: Their Stories (Minhom Feehom), dir Maggie Morgan (Egypt)
The Greatest of Sins (Akbar Al Kaba’ir), dir Youssef Hesham (Egypt) (short)
Her Man (Ragilha), Aiten Amin (Egypt) (short)
Jumaa and the Sea (Jumaa Wa Al Bahr), dir Hani Al Shaibany (UAE)
Two Women on the Road (Imra’atan ‘Ala Al Tareeq), dir Farida Bourquia (Morocco)
When the People Spoke (‘Indama Takalam Al Sha’ab), dir Amer Al Zuhair (Kuwait)

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