The Abu Dhabi Film Festival has unveiled a rich lineup comprising eight world preems from the Arab world, including Egyptian helmer Ibrahim El Batout’s organ trafficking thriller “El Ott” and its previously announced opener, Arabic road movie “A to B” by Emirati helmer Ali F. Mostafa, alongside a savvy selection of the cream of this year’s festival season crop.
Co-produced by twofour54, the media hub behind the fest, and by government-backed film and TV outfit Image Nation, “A to B” marks the first time Abu Dhabi, now at its eighth edition, opens with a pic by an Emirati helmer.
“El Ott” (aka “The Cat”) (pictured) is produced by Egyptian star/multihyphenate Amr Waked (“Lucy”), who also stars. It has topical hook since Egypt’s recent political upheavals have left a law enforcement gap in the country, allowing mob-led organ-trafficking rings to thrive, according to reports.
The Arab selection also comprises first-time Jordanian helmer Naji Abu Nowar’s Bedouin Western “Theeb,” shot in the Jordanian desert with real Bedouins, which took the best directors prize in Venice’s Horizons section; 3D docu “Iraqi Odyssey,” by the Swiss-Iraqi director known as Samir, which depicts the plight of the helmer’s immigrant family; and Palestinian director Amer Al Shomali and Canadian director Paul Cowan’s docu “The Wanted 18,” about how 18 cows pasturing on a Palestinian collective farm became a national security threat to Israel, which screened in Toronto.
Also segueing from Toronto is Lebanese director Ghassan Salhab’s drama “The Valley” about man who loses his memory after an accident in the Beqaa Valley and is held hostage on a local farm where drugs are produced. All these films are supported by Abu Dhabi’s Sanad film fund
As for international titles cherry-picked on the festival circuit by artistic director Ali Al Jabri and chief programmer Teresa Cavina, they include Chinese helmer Diao Yinan’s cutting-edge noir “Black Coal, Thin Ice,” top winner in Berlin; Turkish helmer Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Winter Sleeps,” which scooped the Cannes Palm d’Or; Mauritanian helmer Abderrahmane Sissako’s “Timbuktu,” about the occupation of Timbuktu by militant Islamic rebels; and Iranian-American director Ramin Bahrani’s “99 Homes,” which made a splash in Venice and is partly financed by Image Nation.
The festival will also feature Francois Truffaut retro, with a selection of restored films, including “The 400 Blows,” “The Man Who Loved Women,” and “Day For Night” being screened for the first time in the region.
Abu Dhabi also recently announced its collaboration with Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation/World Cinema Project which will see screenings at the fest of recent 4K restorations of “The Color Of Pomegranates,” by Russian master Sergei Parajanov and “Manila In The Claws Of Light,” by influential Filipino auteur Lino Brocka. They will screen with original English and Arabic subtitles, added courtesy of ADFF.
The closer will be Disney’s “Big Hero 6,” launching into the Middle East on November 1, one week after its world preem at the Tokyo International Film Festival.
Fest will run October 23-November 1