Abu Dhabi’s second Middle East Film Festival will open Oct. 10 with Rian Johnson’s “The Brothers Bloom,” starring Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody and close Oct. 19 with Ridley Scott’s “Body of Lies,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe. “Body of Lies,” about a CIA operative tracking a terrorist in Jordan, is a bold choice given the hot-potato subject and the fact that Scott was barred from lensing in neighboring Dubai after authorities expressed concern about the subject. He eventually filmed in Morocco.
Other gala preems include Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” Spike Lee’s “Miracle at St. Anna” and Neil Burger’s “The Lucky Ones.”
Femme icons Carole Bouquet and Susan Sarandon are expected to attend in support of Jane Fonda, who will receive a special tribute in partnership with Gallic film org, Cinema Verite.
Tunisian helmer Nacer Khemir will receive fest’s Middle East tribute to coincide with his 60th birthday.
Industry initiatives include the launch of Muslims on Screen and Television in conjunction with the Saban Center for Middle Eastern Policy at the Brookings Institute in Washington. It will become a cultural resource center looking at Islam and Muslims in the U.S. entertainment field.
Fest organizers are also bowing the Arab Film Industry Research Circle, looking at trends in the Arab film biz.
Organizers have already unveiled a selection of Arab films (Daily Variety, Sept. 10).
“The idea of socially conscious cinema is something that everyone is talking about here and we’ve made an extra effort to show films that have something to say,” said fest director of programming Jon Fitzgerald.
“We’ve also made a concerted attempt to balance the East and West in our selection. There are well over 100 films in selection and nearly half of those are from the Middle East. It’s a pretty significant position for us.”