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Dubai Goes to Cannes, Accents Female Arab Directors

Five films by the new generation of directors from the Arab world — four of them women — will be unveiled on Monday (May 22) at Dubai goes to Cannes, the Cannes Film Market’s pix-in-post industry showcase. They are supported by the Dubai film market which is the only bona fide movie mart in the Middle East.

— Moroccan director Leila Kilani will present her sophomore feature “Joint Possession,” set on the hills around Tangier where rapacious real estate developers are tearing up the landscape and a family must decide whether to sell a large plot of land on which their old manor house lies. Kilani’s debut feature, “On the Edge,” about four girls from Tangiers who peel shrimps by day and turn tricks at night, screened in 2012 at the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight.

— Lebanese-American director Susan Youssef will present her sophomore work “Marjoun and the Flying Headscarf,” a coming-of-age drama about a rebellious teenage Arabic girl living in Little Rock, Arkansas who learns to ride a motorcycle and takes off for the open road. Youssef’s first feature, well-received Gaza-set love story “Habibi” went to Venice and Toronto in 2012.

— Egyptian director Ahmed Fawzi’s will present his first fiction feature “Poisonous Roses,” about a twisted sister/brother dynamic that develops between a toilet cleaner and her younger brother in an Egyptian slum. Fawzi’s docu “Living Skin” screened at many international fests including Toronto’s Hot Docs.

— Algerian-born director Yasmine Chouikh will present her feature debut “Until The End Of Time,” a love story set in a cemetery where a seventy-year-old gravedigger and sixty-something woman who wants to organise her own funeral prior to her death, develop strong feelings for each other.

—Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir will present “Wajib,” a drama with comedic elements about an estranged father and son, played respectively by prominent Palestinian-Israeli actors Mohammad Bakri and Saleh Bakri, working together for the first time. The film takes play in a day during which they drive around Nazareth and the twists and turns in their uneasy relationship unfolds. Jacir’s “When I Saw You” was Palestine’s 2013 Oscar entry.

We are going to screen 9 minutes of the film,” said Jacir. “For me it’s going to be about showing it to distributors and festival programmers, since I have a sales agent, Pyramide Films, on board.” Dubai has been a big supporter of “Wajib” through its Dubai Film Connection co-production platform, where “Wajib” (pictured) won the top award.

 DUBAI GOES TO CANNES, MAY 22

“Joint Possession,” (Leila Kilani, Morocco, France, United Arab Emirates)

“Marjoun and the Flying Headscarf,” (Susan Youssef, Lebanon, Netherlands, United States, United Arab Emirates, Qatar)

“Poisonous Roses,” (Ahmed Fawzi Saleh, Egypt, France)

“Until the End of Time,” (Yasmine Chouikh, Algeria, United Arab Emirates)

“Wajib,” (Annemarie Jacir, Palestine, France, Norway, Colombia)

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