What to watch on day four of the Dubai International Film Festival
2 ½: A working-class mother exists on the breadline, trying to make ends meet amid the hustle and flow of everyday life in Beirut. At the end of a long, hot summer’s day, she survives a horrific and devastating attack. (18+) No dialogue. Runtime: 15 minutes. MOE6, 21.45.
20 Cigarettes: One man’s journey back from the brink of death. Aureliano Amadei is an aimless 28 year old who travels to Iraq to join a film shoot in the middle of the desert. Within hours of arriving, he is part of a group of men targeted in a truck-bomb blast at the police station in Nasiriyah. (18+) English, Italian. English subtitles. Runtime: 90 minutes. MOE2, 20.45.
Aftershock: Bookended by two natural calamities, huge earthquakes in Tangshan in 1976 and Sichuan in 2008, this is the story of those who survived the catastrophe, forced to rebuild their shattered lives amid the rubble and ruin of their cities. (18+) Chinese. English subtitles. Runtime: 122 minutes. MOE8, 19.30. Editor's pick
Amin: Amin is a postgraduate music student, researching for a doctoral degree at the Kiev Conservatory. As part of his study programme, he sets out to explore the increasingly elusive folk music of the ancient Qashqai tribes of southern Iran. (G) Persian, Russian, Turkish. English subtitles. Runtime: 120 minutes. MOE7, 15.30.
Apricots: Upon being drafted for military service, Ahmad, a determined young Syrian poet, decides to flee his country, up to his neck with labyrinthine bureaucracy, conservative family and, to top it all off, a reluctant lover. En route to Lebanon, he finds himself in an apricot orchard. How will the orange fruits inspire our poetic hero? (15+) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 19 minutes. MOE6, 21.45. World premiere
Ar Riyadh: A short, dramatic piece of cinema from Saudi Arabia. Urban environments and the relationship inhabitants develop with their surroundings are explored in this thought-provoking piece. (PG) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 10 minutes. MOE4, 20.30.
At Dawn: Keltoum and her husband, Omar, live in a village in the heart of the Moroccan mountains. Both are actors, but have little work and have been dreaming of staging a play for years. Keltoum is sick and Omar takes her regularly to Tangiers to be treated. While there, he searches for a theatre for their play. (12+) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 90 minutes. MOE5, 15.00.
Bored: This film follows a young Emirati couple on their honeymoon. Their approach to the relationship and commitment to the marriage is the theme, providing a revealing and frank insight into the realities of arranged marriages and the challenges faced by modern-day Emirati couples. (PG) English, Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 16 minutes. MOE4, 15.30.
Bullet Time: Iraqi Kurdistan, 1991. A few months after the first Gulf war, two humanitarian workers brave the curfew to save their interpreter’s son, wounded by a landmine. All through the night, lives are shattered, secrets told and knots undone. (15+) English, Arabic, French. English subtitles. Runtime: 31 minutes. MOE2, 20.45. World premiere
Bunraku: A wild, futuristic tale of obsessive revenge, Bunraku (named after Japan’s traditional puppet theatre) is set in a dazzlingly-rendered future world ruled by the sword (guns are outlawed). Past and present, fantasy and reality, samurai and western all combine for a thrilling, fantastic revenge movie. (15+) English. Runtime: 131 minutes. MOE2, 23.55.
Canary: A look at the lives of four ordinary people touched by the passage of a small canary from one pair of hands to the next. Although each protagonist is radically different in their own way, each suffers from the same loneliness and sense of desperation. (PG) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 13 minutes. MOE4, 20.30.
Fragments of a Lost Palestine: Filmmaker Norma Marcos has both French and Palestinian passports, yet finds herself a citizen of nowhere. Denied entry to Palestine, she is unable to visit her ailing mother, and spends much of her time being given the runaround by civil servants. (PG) English, Arabic, French. English subtitles. Runtime: 74 minutes. MOE8, 22.30.
Hamama: Hamama is a nearly 90-year-old female healer and living legend in the emirates. Though blessed with an incredible gift of healing she has to face her fragility and age, which threaten to affect her work and her livelihood. (12+) English, Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 63 minutes. MOE4, 18.00. Editor's pick
Heaven’s Water: A peddler loves a yellow fish at a shop. He meets a pregnant girl in her second month, after the two are brought together by the love of the fish, and helps her get rid of the foetus. (12+) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 24 minutes. MOE6, 21.45. World premiere
Inshallah, Football: Basharat is the captain of the teenage ISAT football team, made up of local kids. When he wins a football scholarship to Brazil – home of his idol, Pele – it seems as if Basharat will be escaping the hardships and tensions of Kashmir for a dream life abroad. (15+) English, Urdu, Kashmiri. English subtitles. Runtime: 82 minutes. MOE7, 22.15. Leaking: A young girl escapes the tensions and fights at home by playing outdoors. When she comes back home, things are still the same. There is little she can do to rectify the situation. (G) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 5 minutes. MOE4, 20.30.
Majid: Ten-year-old orphan Majid sells books and shines shoes on the streets of Mohammedia while his older brother Driss dreams of Norway and Norwegian girls. (15+) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 116 minutes. MOE9, 18.00.
Microphone: When Khaled returns to Alexandria after years of travel, he discovers that things aren’t going too well. His girlfriend greets him with the news that she is emigrating and his relationship with his ailing, ageing father has deteriorated beyond repair. Confused, depressed and alone, Khaled walks the city streets at night. Unexpectedly, he chances upon the city’s hidden subculture – rappers, rockers, graffiti artists and a whole world of creativity, expression and art. (12+) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 120 minutes. JBR, 20.00. Editor's pick Morning Glory: When hard-working TV producer Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) is fired from a local news programme, her career begins to look as bleak as her love life. Stumbling into a failing morning show, Becky decides to revitalise the programme by bringing on legendary TV anchor Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford). (18+) English. Runtime: 110 minutes. First Group Theatre, 19.15. Editor's pick
Mustache: A man living in Kuwait is unable to grow a moustache. It could become a serious problem. (PG) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 15 minutes. MOE4, 20.30.
My Father: In a rural Thai village, a small family’s father is forced to quit his job as a train station janitor because of a protest letter he penned to the authorities. Despite the hardships faced by his penniless family, he heads to Bangkok to join a Red Shirts mass rally. (15+) Thai. English subtitles. Runtime: 22 minutes. MOE7, 19.00. World premiere
My Father from Haifa: Munir Shargawi says his entire life was shaped by one event: his family’s forced evacuation from Palestine in 1948, when he was a boy of eight. Since then, he joined the Palestinian military, left and wandered the world before ending up in Denmark, where he married and raised a family. (12+) Arabic, Danish, Hebrew. English subtitles. Runtime: 52 minutes. MOE10, 19.45.
My Joy: Georgy is a morose truck driver lost in the rural heartlands of Russia. Ending up in a small village, he encounters a series of diverse characters each of whom offer a distinct perspective on life. (15+) Russian. English subtitles. Runtime: 127 minutes. MOE5, 21.15. Editor's pick
Open Doors: Living images from the dead past help Tara cope with her present, which is devoid of any contact with the outer world. But for how long can this self-deception keep the body and soul together? (12+) Hindi. English subtitles. Runtime: 15 minutes. MOE7, 19.00. World premiere
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, 16.15. Repeat screening
Pedal: Shiori has been searching for her missing son, Koichi, for five years. Her younger son, Kota, is now eight years old – the same age Koichi was at the time he disappeared. One day, Kota meets a boy who claims to be his brother. (12+) Japanese. English subtitles. Runtime: 30 minutes. MOE7, 19.00.
Pegasus: A young woman is discovered by the police, traumatised and fragile. It transpires that she is pregnant, and claims she has been raped by a demon she refers to as the Lord Of The Horse. After being referred to a psychiatrist, she begins exhibiting disturbing symptoms. (18+) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 104 minutes. First Group Theatre, 22.30.
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. Runtime: 85 minutes. MOE6, 15.15. Repeat screening
Poetry: A profound story of an elderly woman in search of the fundamental poetry in her life. A lively, exuberant character, Mija has a bird-like curiosity and is always up to something. (18+) Korean. English subtitles. Runtime: 139 minutes. MOE6, 18.00.
Pumzi: A chilling tale, set some time in the future, after a series of global ‘water’ wars have driven the remaining human population underground. In an East African subterranean community, one determined woman finds a germinating seed and tries to escape to the outside with it – only to be heavily discouraged. (PG) English. Runtime: 22 minutes. MOE7, 19.00. Reign of Assassins: Produced by John Woo and Terence Chang, this epic martial arts action thriller promises to exhilarate. Set in ancient China, the film stars Michelle Yeoh as Zeng Jing, a skilled assassin who is on a mission to return the remains of a mystical Buddhist monk to its resting place. (18+) Mandarin. English subtitles. Runtime: 117 minutes. Madinat Arena, 20.00. Gala screening, invite only
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. MOE1, 15.45 Repeat screening, Editor's Pick
Rewind: In life, we face lots of events that force us to change our principles and views. We carry memories around with us that we sometimes wish we could wipe or alter. Yet if we could recreate things, and keep the wheel in motion, our lives wouldn’t be the same – we would be living another life entirely. This film examines the notion. (PG) No dialogue. Runtime: 5 minutes. MOE4, 15.30.
Sabeel: Two small boys live with their elderly grandparent in the mountains of the UAE. Spending their days tending their vegetables and then selling produce on the road, they have to earn enough money to buy medicine for their sick grandmother. (PG) No Dialogue. Runtime: 20 minutes. MOE4, 15.30.
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. MOE8, 16.15. Repeat screening
September Rain: In ’40s Damascus, a young man is listening to a broadcast of the songs of the buzuq player. Flipping to the present day, the young man is now a father with a fruit-selling business, bringing up his large, musical family alone, following the death of his beloved wife. (12+) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 87 minutes. MOE5, 17.45.
Sideways: Fares, a 23-year-old man, falls into a coma after a serious car accident. As he lies motionless, his mind travels deep down into his subconscious, a place where reality and the imagination start to intertwine. (PG) Arabic, French. English subtitles. Runtime: 16 minutes. MOE6, 21.45.
Sleeping with Her: Titisi is an Indonesian carer who looks after an old lady in Taiwan. The pair are close, even sharing a bed, yet inevitably there are tensions that begin to surface. The old lady treats Titisi as her daughter, taking a maternal interest in her life, while Titisi is restless, dreaming of romance and love with a man she’s just met. (15+) Mandarin. English subtitles. Runtime: 28 minutes. MOE7, 19.00.
Solo: An Arabic musician is unable to pursue his passion for music. (PG) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 13 minutes. MOE4, 15.30.
Stray Bullet: Set in Beirut in 1976, we follow Noha, a thirtysomething woman about to be married. While her parents are relieved, Noha realises that she has no feelings for her fiancé. To worsen the situation, a former lover of Noha’s suddenly reappears, sending the lives of all involved into a dizzying freefall. (12+) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 75 minutes. MOE10, 16.00.
Suicide Club: At sunrise, five strangers unknown to each other assemble along the edge of the roof of a high-rise building. They all have one desire – to commit suicide. (18+) German. English subtitles. Runtime: 96 minutes. MOE11, 19.30. Editor's pick
Sweet and Lowdown: A gloriously comic, heartbreakingly poignant, rollicking ride through the seedy underbelly of the 1930s jazz scene in America, Sean Penn delivers a standout performance in this Woody Allen spoof documentary, charting the life of forgotten jazz great Emmet Ray. (15+) English. Runtime: 95 minutes. MOE12, 15.45.
The Bridal Quarter: Set in 1989, deep in the heart of rural Philippines in the Mindanao province, 16-year-old Ayesah is informed, to her surprise and displeasure, that she is to marry Hussein and according to custom, is to be sequestered in her room for a month while her family prepares for the wedding. (15+) Tagalog, Maguindanaon. English subtitles. Runtime: 83 minutes. MOE1, 21.30.
The City of the Dead: Cairo is a colourful and chaotic world of life and death. Cleaving a four-mile path down the spine of the city is a mass of ancient tombs, mausoleums and crypts. Many date back centuries. But this city of the dead is also very much alive. (12+) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 62 minutes. MOE10, 22.15.
The House Under the Water: Thirty years ago, Mortaza and his best friend were involved in a tragic accident, in which the latter’s younger brother drowned. Fast-forward three decades and Mortaza has just been released from prison and hopes to rebuild his life. But the past soon catches up with him. (15+) Persian. English subtitles. Runtime: 92 minutes. MOE2, 18.00. World premiere The Nutcracker in 3D: It’s ’20s Vienna and nine-year-old Mary lives in a home filled with lovely things and loneliness. On Christmas Eve, Mary’s beloved Uncle Albert arrives with the gift of a wooden nutcracker doll, which her imagination brings to life. (G) English. Runtime: 107 minutes. Madinat Arena, 15.00. Editor's Pick, Gala screening, invite only
The Philosopher: Baggio (Jean Reno) is a successful Parisian, a pianist, footballer and bon vivant, yet he feels there is something missing from his life. (PG) English. Runtime: 17 minutes. Madinat Arena, 20.00. Gala screening invite only, World premiere
The Piano in a Factory: Chen is a straightforward man, a steelworker in early ’90s China. All around him, political and social certainties are shifting rapidly. Yet for Chen, life is a simple round of work and then caring for his young daughter. (12+) Mandarin. English subtitles. Runtime: 105 minutes. MOE12, 19.00.
This is My Picture When I was Dead: Athens, 1983. The press reports that four-year old Bashir is killed during the assassination of his father, a top PLO lieutenant. A tragedy, yet what if Bashir’s death was not the end of his journey? Today, he would be 29 years old. This film redefines what a documentary can be. (PG) English, Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 81 minutes. MOE11, 22.30.
Ticket from Azrael: A short documentary that charts the desperate efforts of a Palestinian man digging an escape tunnel from Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, through to Egypt. A powerful and sobering account of the realities of life in occupied Palestine. (15+) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 30 minutes. MOE10, 19.45.
To Rest in Peace: Inspired by the true story of Malek, a Kuwaiti man, during the invasion of the country in 1990. Day after day, he passes two dead bodies, untended on the street. Caught between his fear of death and respect for human dignity, he decides to bury the bodies himself. (15+) English. Runtime: 18 minutes. MOE4, 20.30. World premiere
Tomorrow will be Better: Two young brothers, Vasya and Petya, live in a railway station in Russia. Dreaming of a life beyond bleak poverty, they team up with a friend, Lapya, and set out on an epic trek to Poland, where they believe they will find a new, happy life. (18+) Russian, Polish. English subtitles. Runtime: 123 minutes. MOE1, 18.30.
Trust: Annie is 14 years old and, like most teenagers, is addicted to all manner of social networking sites. Her parents are used to it and pursue their own hectic lives. Even the prospect of Annie’s new online friend, a 16-year-old boy called Charlie doesn’t worry them unduly – but it should. (18+) English. Runtime: 104 minutes. MOE12, 22.30.
Uncle Boonmee Who can recall His Past Lives: Based on the memories of Boonmee’s life and those that came before, we watch as the dying Buddhist lies in bed, deep in the Thai countryside, his mind ranging over vast territories, his recollections weaving in magical or supernatural elements in compelling and gorgeous detail. (18+) Thai. English subtitles. Runtime: 113 minutes. MOE9, 21.15. Editor's Pick
We Will Not Die: Oran, Algeria: one Friday in summer 1994. After working in Kabul, Salim returns to his home town at prayer time, surprising his beloved Houria who is hiding in a safe apartment. (15+) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 20 minutes. MOE6, 21.45.
Wind: A small child steps on a rusty nail, which infects his blood, like a pollutant in the ocean, in this allegorical short film. (PG) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 22 minutes. MOE4, 15.30.