MidEast fests drop Syrian pix

Dubai, Cairo events react to civil war

ROME –Civil war in Syria war is impacting the lineups of the Dubai and Cairo film festivals, which have pulled pics from directors who are considered supporters of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

The Dubai Film Festival on Wednesday announced it had nixed three Syrian titles from its selection: veteran auteur Abdullatif Abdulhamid’s “El aheq” (The Lover), Palestinian-born Syria-based Basil Al Khatib’s historical drama “Mariam,” and young helmer Joud Said’s sophomore work “My Last Friend,” a followup to his well-received “Once Again.”

The Cairo fest, which kicked off Nov. 28 and is still underway, also dropped “The Lover” from its lineup.

The Dubai fest said in a statement that it couldn’t ignore that these directors signed the so-called “Syrian Filmmakers Statement” in May 2011, which called for political reforms to be made under Assad’s leadership, and have not since retracted their support for the president, whose military and security forces are responsible for thousands of deaths.

There was no immediate comment from the directors.

Dubai, which runs Dec. 9-16, will unspool other Syrian pics, including France-based helmer Meyar Al Roumi’s “Round Trip,” about a Damascus cabbie, which is screening in the Muhr Arab Feature section. Al Roumi has been a vocal opponent of Assad.

In separate news, Dubai announced it has added Indian thesp Freida Pinto, Brit multihyphenate Michael Apted, Kiwi actress Kerry Fox and Brazilian helmer Bruno Barreto to its jury rosters.

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