What to watch on day four of the Dubai International Film Festival
A Screaming Man: The story of a father and son’s soured relationship. Former swimming champion Adam is in his early 60s, and is the pool attendant at a luxury hotel resort. But when new management takes over and Adam is demoted in favour of his son Abdel, he seethes with jealousy. (15+) Arabic, French. English subtitles. Runtime: 92 minutes. MOE10, 21.45.
A Tuesday: One sunny Tuesday morning in Beirut, an elderly lady walks out of an elegant boutique wearing an expensive black dress she has not paid for. A policeman stops her and the story begins. A beautifully-told little vignette, this compelling and masterfully performed narrative is a fine example of short, succinct storytelling. (PG) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 20 minutes. MOE6, 21.45.
Aayesh: Aayesh is a middle-aged man who works as a morgue security guard in a big hospital. It is a mundane, lonely life, but one day, his daily routine abruptly changes for 10 minutes. This brief interval serves to radically alter the course of Aayesh’s life. (PG) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 29 minutes. MOE6, 21.45.
All About My Father: For more than 70 years, Elius Sfeir has been working as a barber in Beirut, at some of the country’s most exclusive and refined salons. Now a spry octogenarian, he has a lifetime of memories to share, which he does generously in All About My Father, a fascinating portrait of a man who, over the years, has coiffed the heads of politicians, princes and presidents. (PG) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 75 minutes. MOE9, 14.45.
Autumn: Rafiq and his family are struggling to come to terms with the loss of his older brother Tauqir, a tourist photographer, who is one of the thousands of young men who have disappeared since the onset of the militant insurgency in Kashmir. When Rafiq discovers his late brother’s cherished camera, complete with a roll of film, his life finds a new sense of purpose. (15+) Urdu. English subtitles. Runtime: 99 minutes. MOE11, 13.00.
Cairo Exit: A powerful account of life in contemporary Cairo. Amal Iskander is an 18-year-old Coptic girl, living in Bashtel, in the slums of Cairo. Her Muslim boyfriend Tarek is planning to leave Egypt for Italy. Amal tells Tarek she is pregnant but he gives her an ultimatum – abandon the country with him, or have an abortion. (18+) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 100 minutes. Madinat Arena, 21.00. Gala screening, invite only, World Premiere
Damascus Roof and Tales of Paradise: This film looks at the rich tradition of storytelling in Syria, with fables passed from grandparents to grandchildren. These stories often get lost with time and there’s a danger they will vanish forever. (PG) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 52 minutes. MOE7, 22.15. World premiere
Damascus with Love: Rima, a Syrian-Jewish girl is about to emigrate from Damascus. When her father reveals an old secret to her at the airport, she cancels her trip and returns to explore the past. This long search will unveil the other face of the city, where many cultures live together in rare harmony. Through other people, Rima discovers herself for the first time. (15+) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 95 minutes. First Group Theatre, 18.45. World premiere
Darkness: A small, sweet nostalgic film about the life of a postman in a bygone era. Set in the early years of the UAE’s existence, we meet a postman whose daily life revolves around two major touchstones – his job and his son. From both, he draws (and provides) support and love. (PG) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 18 minutes. MOE9, 21.15.
Elektra: A rueful journey into the bruised familial bonds of an aristocratic household in central Kerala, the film explores the texture of desire and loss for Elektra, a young woman devoted to her father and enraged by her mother’s adulterous relationships during his absence from home. (18+) Malayalam. English subtitles. Runtime: 130 minutes. First Group Theatre, 22.30.
Exhalation: The death of an ex-classmate, Yosuke, brings Naoko back to her hometown. Arriving the day before his funeral, Naoko embarks upon a road trip with her friend Sayuri. Their journey turns into one of remembrance and unspoken regrets. (12+) Japanese. English subtitles. Runtime: 22 minutes. MOE10, 18.30. World premiere
Gaza-Strophe, Palestine: Directors Samir Abdallah and Khéridine Mabrouk, accompanied by their friends from the Palestinian Human Rights Centre, went to Gaza to film those left amid the rubble of buildings, families and shattered lives following the 2008/9 ‘Operation Cast Lead’ offensive. This powerful, harrowing documentary is testimony to the resilience and bravery of Gaza’s inhabitants as they try to rebuild the remnants of their world. (18+) English, Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 100 minutes. MOE12, 22.15. World premiere
Genpin: In Japan, a small clinic hosts women seeking a natural childbirth. Run by Dr Tadashi Yoshimura, who has attended more than 20,000 births over 40 years, the Yoshimura Clinic in Aichi Prefecture is a haven of calm and tranquillity. Naomi Kawase’s sensitive documentary follows some of the women who elect to give birth here. (15+) Japanese. English subtitles. Runtime: 92 minutes. MOE11, 22.00. Repeat screening
Imams: Go to School A group of apprentice imams at Paris’s Great Mosque undergo a programme of secular training, in order to comply with new social regulations. They train at the Catholic Institute of Paris. (15+) Arabic, French. English subtitles. Runtime: 75 minutes. MOE6, 15.15.
Juliet’s Choice: Set in the ’70s, this delightful film is about Ju, a disabled girl who works in an old-fashioned printing shop. Sometimes she looks out of the window, fantasising about a completely different life. When a handsome boy comes into the store with banned articles in his hands, Ju’s life takes a drastic turn. (15+) Chinese. English subtitles. Runtime: 32 minutes. MOE10, 18.30.
Leaving Baghdad: A globe-crossing road movie that follows the often-lonely struggle of an Iraqi refugee, Sadiq, leaving behind the hell of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. He finds himself further tormented as he moves from country to country – passed from one smuggler to the next. (15+) English, Arabic, Hungarian. English subtitles. Runtime: 85 minutes. MOE7, 15.45.
Letters to Palestine: A documentary featuring the voices of Emiratis and UAE residents sending their oral letters to Palestinian people living under occupation. From young to old, the Arabs captured in this film send their stories and their love to the homes, families and children of Palestine. (PG) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 37 minutes. MOE9, 21.15. Editor's pick
Malaki Scent of an Angel: For more than five years, relatives of people reported missing in Lebanon have been keeping vigil outside the UN Headquarters in Beirut. A legacy of Lebanon’s civil war, more than 18,000 individuals remain unaccounted for. This is the story of the mothers of those who have vanished, who refuse to forget them and continue to campaign for the truth. (PG) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 80 minutes. MOE1, 19.00. World premiere
Mandoo: As a small Kurdish girl, Sheelan emigrated with her parents to Sweden, leaving behind the turmoil of life in Saddam-era Iraq. It’s now 20 years later and Sheelan is a successful young doctor, thriving in Sweden. Encouraged by the downfall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, and searching for news of her uncle, she resolves to return home and reconnect with her family. (15+) Arabic, Kurdish. English subtitles. Runtime: 90 minutes. MOE12, 12.30.
Mokhtar: This is the story of a young boy who lives with his family of goatherds in a remote Moroccan village. One day, the boy finds an injured owl and decides to keep it, despite the fact that the owl is considered a bad omen. Mokhtar’s new pet becomes a symbol of rebellion against his family and an icon of his fledgling independence. (15+) Tachelhit. English subtitles. Runtime: 16 minutes. MOE6, 21.45.
My Wife’s Husband: A comedic love story of a woman torn between husbands.Leila is married to a hopeless loser, Ahmad. It’s a volatile relationship not helped by Ahmad’s continuous infidelity. After one particularly humiliating transgression, the couple divorce for the third time, but they soon want to reconcile. Yet, legally given it’s their third divorce, they cannot re-marry unless one of them marries someone else in the interim. (PG) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 111 minutes. JBR, 20.00.
Mynaa: Journey of Love: A dramatic romance, set on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border. Eschewing typical masala movie clichés, this thoughtful story works well on every level. We begin with Suruli, sitting in a small prison cell in the village of Theni. An unfortunate man for whom life has always been a struggle, he was arrested for beating up the brother of the girl he loves after the brother insisted she marry a man in a nearby village. (18+) Tamil. English subtitles. Runtime: 135 minutes. MOE12, 15.45.
Nomad’s Home: An homage to the Bedouin women of the central Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, this film follows two Arab women born in very different social and cultural circumstances within contemporary Egypt. Iman Kamel is an Egyptian filmmaker who has since emigrated. Selema Gabali is a Bedouin social entrepreneur, confined to remote regions of the militarised central Sinai. (PG) English, Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 61 minutes. MOE7, 22.15. World premiere
Norwegian Wood: After hearing The Beatles’ ‘Norwegian Wood’, a man named Toru reflects on his life back in the ’60s, when his best friend killed himself, and he developed a friendship with his girlfriend as the two struggled with their grief. (18+) Japanese. English subtitles. Runtime: 113 minutes. MOE2, 21.00.
Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror: Haruka is a single child, whose mother died when she was small. One day, she decides to go to her local shrine and pray that a lost, treasured gift from her late mother, a small mirror, be found again. When she gets to the shrine, she encounters a strange little creature. Intrigued, Haruka follows it into a land of forgotten items. (PG) Japanese. English subtitles. Runtime: 99 minutes. First Group Theatre, 16.00.
Ordinary Days: A moving film linking three stories, three characters and a number of acts of violence. Ordinary Days is a triptych featuring ‘Between’, ‘Among’ and Distance’. ‘Between’ tells the story of Han-cheol, a deeply depressed insurance salesman; ‘Among’ follows Hyo-ri, an accessory designer in her mid-twenties who has just been dumped by her boyfriend; and ‘Distance’ is a story of Su-hyuk who is mourning the death of his grandfather. (18+) Korean. English subtitles. Runtime: 106 minutes. MOE6, 18.30.
Outrage: A darkly funny look at the labyrinthine world of Japanese yakuza, complete with complex power hierarchies, power struggles, lots of banter and deadpan farce. Outrage features a melee of gang leaders, underbosses and soldiers, all manipulated by Mr Chairman, while a series of conflicting crews spend their time coming up with increasingly imaginative ways to decimate their opponents. (18+) Japanese. English subtitles. Runtime: 109 minutes. MOE10, 13.00.
Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow: British filmmaker Sophie Fiennes takes us to the heart of German artist Anselm Kiefer’s process via a journey through the extraordinary 35-hectare workspace he created amidst the hills of Barjac in France during the ’90s. A warren of subterranean chambers and tunnels incorporating his giant paintings and installations, it is where the artist devises and assembles his pieces and is the definitive context in which to understand his work. (15+) French, German. English subtitles. Runtime: 105 minutes. MOE5, 18.45.
Peace: What is peace? What is coexistence? Peace is a visual essay-like observational documentary that contemplates these questions by observing the daily lives of people and cats in Okayama, Japan, where life and death, acceptance and rejection are intermingled. (12+) Japanese. English subtitles. Runtime: 75 minutes. MOE11, 19.30.
Pinoy Sunday: Manuel and Dado have left their village in the Philippines for Taipei, lured by the promise of a better life. One morning, they discover a brand new leather sofa discarded on the sidewalk. Unable to afford any type of delivery service, they start to carry it across town on foot. Along this absurd journey, we learn much about this comical, poignant pair. (12+) Tagalog, Mandarin. English subtitles. Runtimes: 85 minutes. MOE1, 21.30.
Please Do Not Disturb: In this striking debut, we see three stories that take place in Tehran, Iran. The first follows a young woman who has been beaten by her husband. The next is about a clergyman whose wallet and documents have been stolen. The final film is the story of an elderly couple whose TV has broken. (15+) Farsi. English subtitles. Runtime: 80 minutes. MOE10, 16.15.
Prison and Paradise: The Bali bombings of October 2002 changed the face of Indonesia. In this film, we follow NH Ismail, a journalist at The Washington Post and former roommate of one Bali bomber, as he meets both perpetrators’ and victims’ families. We find that the bombings in Indonesia have created many orphaned children on both sides of the tragedy. (18+) Bahasa, Indonesian. English subtitles. Runtime: 93 minutes. MOE5, 15.30.
Removal: A spooky horror movie in which nothing is as it seems, Removal depicts the story of an overworked, over-medicated floor-cleaning employee who finds himself faced with the task of servicing a sprawling mansion over the course of a single night. Having witnessed a gruesome murder-suicide a year earlier, he is plagued by horrific hallucinations. (18+). English. Runtime: 92 minutes. MOE2, 23.55. Editor's pick
Salve: This film depicts a generation that is closer to their grandparents than their own parents. It is a story about the pain and misery of these grandmothers who are struggling to free their grandchildren from the evils of modern times. (18+) Persian. English subtitles. Runtime: 95 minutes. MOE12, 19.00.
Senses: Souad is a young nurse who falls in love with a comatose patient, Hassan. She checks on him regularly throughout the day, and we watch how she deals with his case. Will Hassan be able to communicate with her? (15+) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 15 minutes. MOE6, 21.45. World premiere
Shadows of Silence: A look at the personal torment of an exile and the permanent presence of pain and alienation in the depths of his heart. This film shows how his bleak dreams and illusions echo the profound isolation of a shattered mind, driving him to contemplate ending his life. (15+) Tamil. English subtitles. Runtime: 11 minutes. MOE10, 18.30.
Short Life: A sweet, charming little film about a plucky young chap called Zhar, whose mother died while giving birth to him. Born under a bad sign, perhaps, but Zhar grows into a sincere and brave-hearted young man in this eloquent, witty and subtly profound film. (15+) English, Arabic, Spanish. English subtitles. Runtime: 16 minutes. MOE6, 21.45.
Soweer: This short film follows children playing a traditional game that fuses the power of imagination with reality. (PG) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 7 minutes. MOE9, 21.15.
The Earrings: Traditionally, the Kyrgyz are most respectful of the sanctity of marriage. This charming film tells of the unexpected arrival of an older woman and her son to the home of an old friend. In the house, there is a young girl who has reached marriageable age, and the two youngsters begin a timid conversation. (15+) Kyrgyz. English subtitles. Runtime: 15 minutes. MOE10, 18.30.
The Father and The Foreigner: Diego, a Roman bureaucrat with a handicapped son, meets Walid, a rich Syrian businessman, also the father of a severely handicapped boy, and the two strike up an unusual friendship. They start meeting regularly and hanging out with Walid’s intriguing sister-in-law. But when one of them disappears, wanted by police for suspected terrorism, a shocking discovery follows. (18+) Italian. English subtitles. Runtime: 104 minutes. MOE11, 16.15.
The First Movie: This special documentary was shot in the sun-baked village of Goptapa, in Iraqi Kurdistan. Travelling through the region in 2008, British writer and filmmaker Mark Cousins discovered a community thriving in Goptapa, yet still haunted by Saddam Hussein’s genocidal massacres that took place 20 years ago. (PG) English, Kurdish. English subtitles. Runtime: 76 minutes. MOE7, 18.45.
The Nine Muses: An investigation of mass migration, following the lives of those thousands of African and Asian migrants who entered Britain following the second world war. The film explores the complex tangle of emotions and feelings experienced by the new Britons, as well as the shape and nature of the society to which they had migrated. (12+) English. Runtime: 90 minutes. MOE5, 21.45.
The Road to Bethlehem: Acclaimed filmmaker and founder/director of the OpenBethlehem NGO Leila Sansour returned to her home town to make a film about the wall. Shot over five years, as she battled with local bureaucracy and documented the effect of the Israeli-imposed barrier upon the local population. (PG) English, Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 120 minutes. MOE9, 18.00. World premiere
Two Guys and a Goat: The Night Before Eid: The cost of a goat is skyrocketing. What to do? Two smart chaps have an idea: steal a goat and cook it in front of its helpless owner, who has been tied up. But even the most meticulously laid plans can go awry, and it’s not long before our jolly goat-rustlers find themselves in a sticky situation. (PG) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 11 minutes. MOE9, 21.15.
Unfunny Game: Either a conman or a stickler for things being done right, Jong-Geun forces discounts from vendors, harasses tailors who make mistakes, and always seems to end up with a profit. (15+) Korean. English subtitles. Runtime: 33 minutes. MOE10, 18.30.
We Don’t Care About Democracy. This is What We Want: Love, Hope and its Many Faces: A dream-like allegorical short, which features a couple, lying in bed talking to each other in their minds. The conversation ranges from accusations of infidelity to their respective dreams. (15+) Hiligaynon. English subtitles. Runtime: 11 minutes. MOE10, 18.30.
Zelal: A sobering insight into the lives of those afflicted by mental illness in Egypt today. Filmed in two large asylums, this documentary reveals the horrific conditions in which patients are expected to live – squalor and neglect is endemic, staff are stretched beyond breaking point and therapy and treatment seems non-existent. (15+) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 90 minutes. MOE1, 15.45.