Abu Dhabi film fest moving in right direction

Abu Dhabi, Oct 26 (Calcutta Tube) The fourth Abu Dhabi Film Festival is charting the right course, dishing out a large variety of entertainers and pulling in the glamour quotient with stars like Adrien Brody, Julianne Moore, Uma Thurman and Clive Owen.

From a Hollywood movie like ‘Secretariat’ to a compelling conflict tale from Canada like ‘Incendies’ and the animated movie ‘Chico & Rita’ from a Spanish director, the Oct 14-23 fare had a lot to boast of.

The response from film buffs here was overwhelming – they not only came for feature films but also appreciated documentaries and short films with the same enthusiasm. They actively participated in every Q&A session. Throughout the 10-day event, there were no glitches, no change in the schedule of movies, press conferences and visits of international celebrities.

Here’s a look at the wide variety of movies screened, including the ones made in or based on India.

Randall Wallace’s winning story ‘Secretariat’, a real tale of housewife Penny Cherry and her horse Secretariat and how they created history on the racecourse, marked a good beginning for the festival that saw quite a few war stories.

It was followed by Oscar-winner Adrien Brody’s fascinating thriller ‘Wrecked’. Set in a dense forest, the film revolves around a wrecked car and the only survivor in it, played by the Oscar-winning actor, and his struggle to rescue himself. It becomes a daunting task for him as he has temporary amnesia due to the accident.

The flavour of war and conflicts started with Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Incendies’, a big screen adaptation of Lebanese-Canadian playwright Wajdi Mouawad’s play by the same name. Lubna Azabal won the best actress award for the film, which is representing Canada at the Oscars in the foreign film category.

Conflict was also the subtext in French director Olivier Assayas’ ‘Carlos’, a biopic that gives revelatory accounts of the notorious Venezuelan revolutionary and terrorist, Carlos the Jackal, who was convicted in France. The film opened to a packed house.

Indian actress Freida Pinto-starrer ‘Miral’ chronicled the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from 1948 to 1994 through the perspective of Palestinian women. Based on Palestinian writer Rula Jebreal’s novel, the film centres on Hind Husseini, who turns her family home into the Dar Al-Tifl Al-Arabi Institute, providing hope and education to orphans, especially girls. Rula grew up in the same orphanage.

Another interesting offering was the animation film ‘Chico & Rita’. Set amid the turmoil of the Cuban Revolution, the film is a love story that pays a tribute to 20th century jazz. Javier Mariscal, Fernando Trueba and Tono Errrando directed the British-Spanish movie.

‘Cirkus Columbia’ focused on the fall of the Communists in Yugoslavia. There were some lighter films like ‘The Life Of Fish’, ‘Messages From The Sea’ and Catherine Deneuve’s ‘Potiche’.

Quite a few women-centric pieces were screened at the festival and one of them was Palestinian director Dahna Abourahme’s documentary ‘Kingdom of Women; Ein El-Hilweh’. She pays an ode to the resilience and valour of women who came together and formed the largest women refugee camp in Lebanon. They not only earned money and protected their families but built the houses with their own hands and fought with the political system when their men were put behind bars.

Another docu-drama that focussed on conflict were ‘Che – Un Hombre Nuevo’, ‘Tears of Gaza’ and ‘In My Mother’s Arms’.

Documentaries ‘Bill Cunnigham New York’ and ‘Jane’s Journey’ respectively depicted the life and work of ace fashion photographer Bill Cunnigham and Jane Goodall, who studied chimpanzees for most of her life, in an inspiring and entertaining manner.

As far as Indian presence is concerned – Tigmanshu Dhulia’s ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ that chronicles the life of the national steeplechase runner was premiered here. The viewers applauded Irrfan Khan generously.

They also appreciated economist turned filmmaker Srijit Mukherjee’s directorial debut ‘Autograph’. The beautifully directed Bengali film had a power-packed performance by Prosenjit and even Indraneel Sengupta was impressive.

Camera d’Or-winning Malayalam director Murali Nair’s ‘Virgin Goat’, which has Raghuveer Yadav in the lead role, was a tad disappointing.

But British filmmaker Kim Longinotto’s ‘Pink Saris’, a documentary about the evils of child marriage and caste conflict in the interiors of India, was well-appreciated by the audiences and won the best documentary award.

Talented Indian actors like Irrfan Khan, Om Puri, Ila Arun, Freida, Nandana Sen too were seen at the fest.

(Arpana can be contacted at arpana.s@ians.in)

-Indo-Asian News Service


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