×

Abu Dhabi Fest Unveils Rich Lineup Mixing Arab World Preems And Standout International Pics

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

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Stephan Komandarev on Sarajevo Player ‘Rounds’

    Director Stephan Komandarev on Sarajevo Player ‘Rounds’ and His Bulgarian Trilogy

    Bulgarian director Stephan Komandarev earned critical acclaim for his 2017 feature “Directions,” which was selected for Cannes’ Un Certain Regard sidebar. The first installment in a planned trilogy about the social inequality and moral ills plaguing both Bulgaria and Europe at large, the film followed six cab drivers over the course of 24 hours as [...]

  • Meryl Streep Best Movie Lines

    HBO Max Lands Steven Soderbergh's Next Film Starring Meryl Streep

    HBO Max has picked up Steven Soderbergh’s next film, the comedy “Let Them All Talk” starring Meryl Streep. Joining Streep in the ensemble cast are Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest, Lucas Hedges and Gemma Chan. The screenplay was written by short story author and MacArthur Fellow recipient Deborah Eisenberg. It’s the story of a celebrated author [...]

  • Bruce Springsteen FYSEE Opening Night with

    Bruce Springsteen Drops Introspective Trailer for 'Western Stars' Film

    While initial reports about Bruce Springsteen’s forthcoming documentary around his recent “Western Stars” album said that it would essentially be a concert film, the first trailer for it, which dropped today, suggests it’s going to be a more introspective outing, more in line with his autobiographical performances at “Springsteen on Broadway” in 2017 and 2018, [...]

  • Phyllis Nagy

    Writers Guild Presidential Candidate Phyllis Nagy Blasts Strategy on Agencies

    Phyllis Nagy, who is challenging Writers Guild of America West’s president David Goodman, has warned of dire consequences from the current stalemate between the WGA and Hollywood agents. Nagy, who announced her candidacy on July 22 as the head of Writers for Negotiation, is running on a platform that the WGA needs to get back to [...]

  • Chris Pine to Play Nixon Attorney

    Chris Pine to Play Nixon Lawyer John Dean in Amazon Studios Feature Pitch (EXCLUSIVE)

    Amazon Studios has nabbed a feature pitch with “Wonder Woman” star Chris Pine attached to play John Dean, a pivotal figure in the Watergate scandal. The film will follow the life and political saga of Dean, who served as White House counsel for President Richard Nixon from July 1970 through April 1973. Amazon bought the [...]

  • 'Bombay Rose,' Venice Premiere, Debuts Trailer

    'Bombay Rose,' Venice Film Festival Premiere, Debuts Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Variety has been given exclusive access to the trailer for animated film “Bombay Rose,” which will have its world premiere opening Venice Critics’ Week on Aug. 28. The film, written and directed by Gitanjali Rao, will also play in the Contemporary World Cinema strand at the Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 7. “Bombay Rose” is [...]

  • Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu speaks during a

    Alejandro G. Inarritu on the Need to Preserve Poetry in Cinema

    Alejandro G. Iñárritu is urging the film industry to guard against the influence of television storytelling in cinema, a looming crisis he said could strip film of the beauty and poetry that make it a unique artistic form of expression. Attending the Sarajevo Film Festival to receive the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo award, the Oscar-winning [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content