It’s that time of year again already. Abu Dhabi Film Festival, arguably the glitziest and most cultural event on the capital’s calendar, is back. Last year, Adrien Brody waxed lyrical about falcons and sunsets, Julianne Moore and Uma Thurman dazzled on the red carpet and for the duration of the festival cinema goers gripped seats, munched popcorn and shed tears over a diverse set of screenings. Now in its fifth year, 2011’s 10-day film extravaganza is shaping up to be just as exhilarating, with a schedule that’s packed with great shorts, documentaries, local talent showcases and blockbusters. We’ll be running a guide to ADFF in next week’s issue, but for now here are just some of the highlights to put in your diary. Waterfront films The most exciting addition to this year’s fest is the open-air screenings, to be held at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr each evening. World cinema and family-friendly movies will be shown on a huge screen in the hotel’s grounds overlooking Maqtaa Creek, so the audience will get to watch films against the ultra-romantic setting of the water, the night sky and the iconic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Audiences will be treated to the world premiere of The Double, which is about a former CIA operative who is called out of retirement to track down an assassin, starring Richard Gere and Martin Sheen.
Family Day This year’s ADFF has special emphasis on involving children, and so Family Day, to be held at Vox Cinemas at Marina Mall on October 15, will have numerous activities designed to engage young people. There will be free film screenings of animated short films for kids by Swedish director Johan Hagelback, and a showing of I Wish, the story of two brothers separated by divorce and reunited on a Japanese bullet train. There will also be the chance to walk the red carpet, see make-up demonstrations and sign the kids up for The Magic Lantern Film Club.
The Hollywood A-listers A film festival wouldn’t be a film festival without a hefty dose of Hollywood glamour. Last year we saw Adrien Brody, Clive Owen, Uma Thurman and Julianne Moore grace the red carpet, and speculation is rife over who will be visiting the city this year. Our money’s on George Clooney – and no, we’re not just dreaming. The Ides of March, in which he stars alongside Ryan Gosling and Philip Seymour Hoffman, is being shown as part of the festival’s ‘showcase’ programme. Other likelies are Tilda Swinton (starring in We Need to Talk About Kevin) and Marion Cotillard, who stars in Contagion. Here’s hoping!
And of course… the movies There is an amazing line-up of films on this year’s schedule, with everything from blockbusters to local film shorts. The award categories include Narrative Feature (for original storytelling), New Horizons (work by first and second-time directors), Documentary Features (non-fiction films) Our World (devoted to exploring environmental issues) and of course the Showcase category (outstanding international films). The Emirates Film Competition, for short films from the UAE and other GCC countries, will feature work from both established directors and talented newbies. With all this choice, how to whittle down your own viewing schedule? It’s a tough one, but we’ll be making time for documentary God Save My Shoes, directed by Julie Benasra and featuring Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik and Dita Von Teese, plus Georges Melies’ A Trip to the Moon, a fully restored colour version of the 1902 classic. Visit the festival’s website for the full schedule.
Where? Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Vox Cinemas Marina Mall and Abu Dhabi Theatre. How to get there: A free festival shuttle service will run between all three locations and Abu Dhabi’s InterContinental hotel, every 15 minutes between 8am-2am. Tickets: Dhs25 for single screenings (Dhs15 for students). Dhs350 for a festival pass. You can buy these at box offices at the Fairmont Bab al Bahr, Marina Mall and Abu Dhabi Theatre, or online at www.adff.ae. Full schedule: Visit www.adff.ae.