World preems include Nouri Bouzid's 'Hidden Beauties'
ROMEThe Abu Dhabi Film Festival will feature a rich roster of entries from emerging and established Arab filmmakers, comprising seven world preems from the Middle East, unspooling alongside hot international pics. Abu Dhabi’s sixth edition — the first headed by Ali Al Jabri, who replaced Peter Scarlet as artistic director in August — will fete Egyptian film and TV star Sawsan Badr, marking the event’s first lifetime achievement award to an Arab star. Italo movie icon Claudia Cardinale will also be honored with a career nod. World preems in the narrative feature competition include Tunisian helmer Nouri Bouzid’s “Hidden Beauties,” a femme empowerment drama set during the Arab Spring revolution, and immigration drama “Harraga Blues” by Algerian veteran Moussa Haddad. Haddad was Gillo Pontecorvo’s assistant on “The Battle of Algiers,” also screening at Abu Dhabi as part of its retro celebrating the 50th anniversary of Algeria’s independence from France. Michael Winterbottom’s “Everyday,” Sally Potter’s “Ginger and Rosa” and Pablo Larrain’s “No” are among recent festival circuit standouts that will get Middle East launches. As previously announced, Wall Street thriller “Arbitrage,” backed by Hollywood-based Saudi producer Mohammed Al Turki, will be the opener with stars Richard Gere and Nate Parker accompanying Turki on the red carpet. Besides celebrating Algeria, fest will spotlight South Korean cinema, unspooling Kim Ki-duk’s “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring” and Kim Jee-woon’s “The Good, the Bad and the Weird.” Fest is now under the direct management of government-backed media hub twofour54, a major driver of the local industry. Fest runs Oct. 11-21.