Documentaries, premieres, classics and more must-see movies
Time Out Abu Dhabi staff
Whatever your big screen flavour of choice, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival has got you covered. Here are our must-see movies so you can find the one that’s right for you.
Enough Said Dir Nicole Holofcener – English If you’re looking for some genuine romance and comedy in your rom-com, look no further than Enough Said. When divorced single parent Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) meets the gentle Albert (James Gandolfini), things start looking up in her lonely life – but when her new friend Marianne (Catherine Keener) complains endlessly about her ex-husband, the realisation dawns on her that she very well may be dating him. Things start getting even more complicated as Eva finds out more than she bargained for about her supposedly ideal partner. This looks set to bring the house down with equal amounts of laughter and tears, and there may not be a dry eye in the auditorium for another reason; the film features one of the final roles of James Gandolfini, who died earlier this year.
Best for: Couples Friday October 25, 6.30pm, VOX 4. Friday November 1, 9.15pm, VOX 1.
Djinn Dir Tobe Hooper – English and Arabic with subtitles Consider yourself a horror aficionado? Then get down to Emirates Palace on Friday 25 to witness the UAE’s first film release in the horror genre. A high-rise building is the setting for this chiller, where an Emirati couple (Razane Jammal and Khalid Laith) return to their home country and move into their new abode – which also happens to be the residence of some malevolent beings called Djinn. Their world begins to slowly unravel around them as the spirits infiltrate their lives. And if the Emirate’s inauguration into the horror pantheon wasn’t exciting enough for you, Djinn is also directed by master of scares Tobe Hooper, the man responsible for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist. Add this kind of talent to a concoction of supernatural goings-on and Arabic folklore, and you can expect Djinn to be a real highlight of the festival.
Best for: Horror film fans Friday October 25, 6pm, Emirates Palace.
Amazonia Dir Thierry Ragobert – No dialogue A capuchin monkey, born and raised in captivity, finds himself in the middle of the jungle after a plane crash releases him into the wild. Wild rivers, antagonistic anacondas and other (uncivilised) monkeys are just some of the conflicts he faces in his undeniably cute quest to survive. Shot on location in the Amazon, expect breathtaking scenery to accompany our simian protagonist on his adventure into the depths of this strange new world. The movie is also shot in 3D, a rarity for the festival, and – hailing from Brazil – the forest-bound romp should be cordial viewing not only for all ages, but all backgrounds too. Amazonia is dialogue-free, which means it could be the film that unites ADFF’s audience the most.
Best for: All the family Saturday October 26, 3.30pm, VOX 5. Thursday October 31, 7pm, VOX 5.
Patema Inverted Dir Yasuhiro Yoshiura – Japanese with subtitles This new anime adventure throws its main character – a little girl by the name of Patema – into a universe where everything is the wrong way up. During her unscheduled visit to this reverse gravity environment she meets a boy and together they discover new and unimagined worlds together. The eccentric premise of Patema comes from the mind of Yasuhiro Yoshiura conceiving a colourful, detailed feature that should delight all lovers of animation. Patema Inverted’s skewed perspective should provide a refreshing divergence from the live-action fare at the rest of the festival.
Best for: Cartoon geeks Saturday October 26, 6.15pm, VOX 1.
Dial M For Murder Dir: Alfred Hitchcock – English The unfeasibly clever Dial M for Murder, will be shown on October 31, making for a more cerebrally spooky way to spend your Halloween. An ex-tennis pro formulates a plot to kill his wife, but he doesn’t expect that she will in fact kill her assailant; he will have to spin an intricate web of lies to get the bloody end he wants. Dial M for Murder is an intelligent inclusion in the programme, beating more well-known Hitchcock pictures for the spot, and riddled with the kind of tension and spiralling plot lines only the Master of Suspense knew how to summon.
Best for: Classic film buffs Thursday October 31, 9.30pm, VOX 5.
The Double/Enemy The Double: Dir Richard Ayoade – English with Arabic subtitles Enemy: Dir Denis Villeneuve – English with Arabic subtitles There is a pair of doppelganger movies at this year’s ADFF; The Double (starring Jesse Eisenberg) and Enemy (starring Jake Gyllenhaal). Both are similar in their dark and enigmatic portrayals of men gradually losing their minds due to the unexplainable appearances of their exact doubles. The Double is played more as a black comedy than the straight-up horror its trailer suggests, and is based on a novel by Dostoyevsky. Enemy on the other hand will be a less stylised affair, though if director Denis Villeneuve’s back catalogue is anything to go by it’ll probably haunt you for a long time.
Best for: People with an evil twin The Double: Wednesday October 30, 9.15pm, VOX 6; Saturday 2 November, 5.45pm, VOX 1. Enemy: Sunday October 27, 6.30pm, Emirates Palace.
Eternal Thirst Dir Guru Dutt – Hindi with subtitles In 1957, Indian director Guru Dutt released Eternal Thirst, which he directed, produced and starred in. It follows the story of a poet, struggling to be recognised in a still freshly independent India. This could very well be where Hollywood’s classic age came to an end, handing its keys to Bollywood – and with a production as lavish, accomplished and romantic as this, it’s not hard to see why the legacy the Indian film industry forged has lasted so long. Layered with luminous musical numbers and Dutt’s typically soulful performance, Eternal Thirst is the ideal introductory taste of Bollywood for those uninitiated.
Best for: Bollywood fans Friday October 25, 9pm, VOX 2.
The Missing Picture Dir Rithy Panh – French with subtitles Filming clay figures in static situations and intercutting them with historical footage, director Rithy Panh uses this bizarre juxtaposition of images to search for some meaning during the events of the Khmer Rouge dictatorship over Cambodia in the ’70s. The atrocities committed during the reign have been, supposedly, erased from record, so Panh sees it as his quest to fill in the gaps, and this oddball work of agit-art is the result. Despite its outwardly unusual premise, The Missing Picture looks set to use different ends of the cinematic spectrum to expose some kind of truth in the middle – about what really happened during this horrific period of Cambodia’s past, and how it forms its future.
Best for: Eccentrics Tuesday October 29, 6.45pm, VOX 1. Saturday November 2, 6pm, VOX 3.
Blackfish Dir GabrIela Cowperthwaite – English and Spanish with subtitles Having made waves around the world already, hard-hitting orca documentary Blackfish is coming to Abu Dhabi’s shores. Focusing on infamous killer whale Tilikum, initially captured in 1983 and subsequently held as a main attraction at SeaWorld in Florida, the documentary examines the nature of the deaths of three people during the whale’s residence at the park. Many of Tilikum’s ex-trainers come forward as witnesses, testifying to the supposed mistreatment of not just Tilikum, but every killer whale on display at one of these aquatic parks. This has been gathering momentum as one of the best documentaries of 2013. It appears intent on changing audience’s minds on animals in captivity. Bring tissues.
Best for: Budding documentary makers Saturday October 26, 4.15pm, VOX 4. Monday October 28, 4.15pm, VOX 4.
Jealousy Dir Philippe Garrel – French with subtitles There’s a distinct pleasure in watching a modern film in black and white. Not only does it evoke that dizzying feel of nostalgia about traditional films, it also just looks really good. This can definitely be said for Jealousy. Louis (Louis Garrel) is a struggling actor who finds some kind of motivation in attempting to snag his new girlfriend an acting role, but thanks to a constantly shifting and complex set of situations, including Louis’ attachments to his previous lover (Olga Milshtein) and their child together, their romance is threatened to be flung on the rocks. Being director Philippe Garrel’s 25th feature film (that’s right, 25th), he knows a thing or two about depicting romantic love on the big screen.
Best for: Old-school film fans Sunday October 27, 6.15pm, VOX 5. Monday October 28, 4pm, VOX 1.