DIFF schedule Wednesday

What to watch on day four of the Dubai International Film Festival

Wednesday 15

678: In this bold and frank film, the directorial debut of respected Egyptian scriptwriter Mohamed Diab, we witness a number of perspectives on sexual harrassment through the eyes of three women drawn from across Cairo’s complex social hierarchy. Frustrated by the lackadaisical response from their local authorities, the trio decide to take the law into their own hands and begin exacting violent revenge on men foolish enough to try to harass them.
(15+) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 100 minutes. MOE9, 15.45.
Repeat screening

A Small Town Called Descent:
In a small town in the middle of nowhere, a nation’s humanity hangs in the balance. Amid a political and racial storm, three elite investigators are deployed to Descent to get to the bottom of the atrocity. Following xenophobic riots in South Africa, two Zimbabwean brothers and a local girl are attacked and one of the brothers is murdered.
(18+) English, Xhosa. English subtitles. Runtime: 106 minutes. MOE7, 15.45.
Repeat screening

A Stone’s Throw Away:
Sebastian Hiriart’s debut feature is an imaginative reflection on the desire and need of so many Mexicans to find their way, whatever the obstacles, to the promised land of the United States. Jacinto Medina, a 21-year-old shepherd in the north of Mexico, is profoundly bored by his uneventful life and lack of opportunity. One day he stumbles upon a keychain lying on the ground engraved with an image of Sprague River, Oregon and, seeing it as a sign, sets out to return it to its owner.
(12+) Spanish. English subtitles. Runtime: 95 minutes. MOE8, 12.45.
Repeat screening

Adrift: People of a Lesser God:
In this gripping story, a group of African migrants, among them a five-month-old baby, sail out of west Africa on a quest to reach the golden shores of Europe. All aboard are packed together like sardines in a leaky fishing canoe as they travel under a full moon on their harrowing journey. Journalist and filmmaker Dominique Mollard captures the struggle of these desperate migrants as they risk their lives in search of a better future.
(PG) English, Arabic, French. English subtitles. Runtime: 103 minutes. MOE9, 19:00
Repeat screening

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. This is a journey of discovery: exploration into the heartlands of Iran and the uncovering of a once vibrant cultural force now eroded into near-obsolescence.
(G) Persian, Russian, Turkish. English subtitles. Runtime: 120 minutes. MOE6, 18.00.

At Dawn:
Keltoum and her husband, Omar, live in a village in the heart of the Moroccan mountains. They are both actors, but do not have much 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. MOE12, 19.00.

Baghdad Film School:
In 2003, only a few months after the liberation of Baghdad, Iraqi-born filmmakers Maysoon Pachachi and Kasimof open the first independent film school in Iraq. They load their car with video equipment and undertake a dangerous journey from Amman to Baghdad.
(PG) English, Arabic, Dutch. English subtitles. Runtime: 59 minutes. MOE9, 22.00.
Repeat screening

Yuko Moriguchi is a well-meaning teacher, in charge of a class at a junior high school. Worn down, not only by the rowdy class’s unruly behaviour, but by the mysterious, unsolved death of her three-year-old daughter, one day she shocks her class by announcing she knows the identity of her daughter’s killers – two of her pupils.
(18+) Japanese. English subtitles. Runtime: 106 minutes. MOE5, 21.00.
Repeat screening

This is the story of dashing revolutionary General Jose Juan Reyes, who seizes control of Cholula, a small Mexican town. Identifying the town’s wealthiest citizens in order to plunder their fortunes, Reyes finds himself tripped up by the smouldering beauty of Beatriz Peafiel, a feisty young dame and the daughter of one of Cholula’s richest men. It’s love at first sight for our macho hero, but does Beatriz not care for his attentions or is she just playing hard to get?
(G) Spanish. English subtitles. Runtime: 99 minutes. JBR, 20.00.

End of Animal:
Heavily pregnant Sun-young is in a taxi returning to her home town Tae Ryong, Korea. She is sharing the taxi with a mysterious man, who appears to know a lot about Sun-young. On a deserted back road, he makes the car stop and begins counting down to zero, when a cataclysmic event occurs.
(18+) Korean. English subtitles. Runtime: 114 minutes. MOE8, 16.00.
Repeat screening

Hamama: Hamama is a nearly 90-year-old female healer and living legend in the Emirates. Blessed with an incredible gift of healing, she has to face her fragility and age that threaten to affect her work and her livelihood. Her skills are incredibly valuable to hundreds who continue to visit her each day where she lives in Al Dhaid near Sharjah, seeking her essential cures.
(12+) English, Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 64 minutes. MOE5, 18.45.
Editor's pick, World premiere


The final instalment of director Semih Kaplanoglu’s trilogy about a young poet named Yusuf, who we meet here as a six-year old, learning the harsh realities of life when his beekeeper father disappears in the forest.
(12+) Turkish. English subtitles. Runtime: 103 minutes. MOE11, 13.00.
Repeat screening

I Wish I Knew: In this fascinating documentary, based on personal recollection, 18 people from three cities – Shanghai, Taipei and Hong Kong – recall their lives in Shanghai. Their personal experiences, like 18 chapters of a novel, tell stories of life in Shanghai from the ’30s to 2010.
(15+) Mandarin. English subtitles. Runtime: 118 minutes. MOE10, 15.15.
Repeat screening

If I Want to Whistle I Whistle:
Silviu is a hot-tempered but charming 18-year-old convict, three weeks away from release. When he discovers that his feckless mother is taking his younger brother to Italy, he realises that his fantasies of freedom are going to be harder to realise than expected.
(15+) Romanian. English subtitles. Runtime: 94 minutes. MOE11, 18.45.
Repeat screeening

An exhilarating and politically powerful road movie, Mandoo tells of a family ripped apart by conflict. As a small Kurdish girl, Sheelan emigrated with her parents to Sweden, leaving behind her extended family and the turmoil of life in Saddam-era Iraq. It’s now 20 years later and Sheelan is a successful young doctor, thriving in Sweden. But she yearns to reconnect with her family roots.
(15+) Arabic, Kurdish. English subtitles. Runtime: 90 minutes. MOE12, 22.15.

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’s emigrating and his relationship with his ageing father has deteriorated beyond repair. Confused, depressed and alone, Khaled walks the city streets at night, brooding over his life. But one night, he chances upon the city’s hidden subculture – rappers, rockers, graffiti artists – and is fascinated by this world of creativity, expression and art.
(12+) Arabic.English subtitles. Runtime: 120 minutes. First Group Theatre, 22.30.
Editor's pick

My Father from Haifa:
Filmmaker Omar Shargawi’s father, Munir, says his entire life was shaped by his family’s forced evacuation from Palestine in 1948, when he was a boy. Since then, he joined the Palestinian military, and then wandered the world before ending up in Denmark, where he married and raised a family. As his father finally opened up about his traumatic past, Omar instigated a trip through the cities of Munir’s past across the Middle East.
(12+) Arabic, Danish, Hebrew. English subtitles. Runtime: 52 minutes. MOE7, 19.00.

In this darkly comic drama, we plunge into the heart of Mumbai during the Ganesha festival, rendering the city into a state of overdrive. Into this teeming mass of humanity, we focus on three distinct stories. A young man returns home from abroad, to find his home city as confusing and maddening as ever. A counterfeiter discovers a bag with explosive contents. And finally, an eager young cricket fanatic has to stump up a hefty sum to join the local team.
(12+) English, Hindi. English subtitles. Runtime: 111 minutes. MOE2, 18.30.

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 much of their time coming up with increasingly imaginative ways to decimate their opponents.
(18+) Japanese. English subtitles. Runtime: 109 minutes. MOE8, 21.30.

Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow:
British filmmaker Sophie Fiennes takes us to the heart of legendary German artist Anselm Kiefer’s process via a journey through the extraordinary 35-hectare workspace he created amid the hills of Barjac, France during the ’90s. A warren of twisting, subterranean chambers and tunnels incorporating his giant paintings and installations, it is where the artist devises and assembles his monumental pieces, and is the definitive context in which to understand his work.
(15+) French, German. English subtitles. Runtime: 105 minutes. MOE6, 21.30.

Passion: Byamba Sakhya’s Passion is a fascinating look at Mongolian film history. He follows Binder Jigjid, son of the legendary Mongolian director Jigjid Dejid, as he takes his films from village to village trying to eke out an existence. The question of whether filmmaking is primarily a business or an art form looms large in this film.
(PG) Mongolian. English subtitles. Runtime 83 minutes. MOE5, 15.30.
Repeat screening

Please Do Not Disturb:

Mohsen Abdolvahab’s film debut presents three stories that take place in Tehran. In the first, we see 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 tale is the story of an elderly couple whose TV has broken. Each of the characters are faced with a moral dilemma and make surprising choices.
(15+) Farsi. English subtitles. Runtime: 80 minutes. MOE10, 18.30.

In life, we face lots of events that force us to change our principles and views. We carry memories around with us: we sometimes wish we could wipe or alter them. 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 by Muna Al Ali ponders the notion.
(PG) No dialogue. Runtime: 5 minutes. MOE10, 21.45.
World premiere

Two small boys live with an elderly grandparent in the mountains of the UAE. Spending their days tending their vegetables and selling produce on the road, they have to earn enough to buy medicine for their sick grandmother. This sweet, poignant film explores their lives and the world in which they live.
(PG) No dialogue. Runtime: 20 minutes. MOE10, 21.45.

Directed by Ali Al-Jabri, whose film Smoke was screened at last year’s festival, this 13-minute short charts the story of an Arabic musician unable to pursue his passion for music.
(PG) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 13 minutes. MOE10, 21.45.

State of Violence:
A hard-hitting drama set in the violent underbelly of modern South Africa. A rising star of the black business elite, Bobedi returns home after an evening celebrating his promotion to CEO of a large mining company to find an intruder in his house. There is a struggle and Bobedi’s wife is murdered in front of him. But it’s immediately clear there’s more to the tragedy than there may seem.
(18+) English, Zulu, Setswana, Tsotsi-Taal. English subtitles. Runtime: 75 minutes. MOE1, 19.00.

Stray Bullet:
Set in Beirut in 1976, Stray Bullet introduces us to Noha, a thirtysomething woman who is about to be married. As relieved as her parents are now the threat of spinsterhood has lifted, Noha realises she has no feelings for her fiancé. To worsen the situation, a former lover of Noha’s suddenly reappears, sending the lives of all into a dizzying freefall.
(12+) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 75 minutes. First Group Theatre, 19.15.

Algerian filmmaker Rahma Benhamou El Madani has been captivated by the traditional practice of trance since she was a girl watching her mother meditate. Years later, she finds the same music on an album sent to the radio station where she works. The band responsible, Gnawa Diffusion, play a blend of ‘Gnawa’ music, fused with Western and Arabic elements. El Madani sets out on an odyssey to discover the roots of this ancient sound.
(15+) Arabic, French. English subtitles. Runtime: 80 minutes. MOE7, 22.15.

Oliver and Elena are a young Swiss couple crossing the Sahara on a truck bound for Timbuktu; the truck breaks down in a tiny settlement in the midst of the Algerian desert. Impatient to get the truck repaired and back on the road, Oliver soon starts chafing at the slow pace of life in the desert oasis. Elena, meanwhile, is fascinated by the people she meets in the village and quickly establishes herself in the community.
(18+) Arabic, French, German. English subtitles. Runtime: 94 minutes. MOE11, 21.30.
Repeat screening

The Dead Sea:
In the darkness of a blackout in Mexico City, some characters, forgotten by God, commit transgressions, murders and infidelities. The lights later come back on and, conscious of what they have done, they must atone for their sins.
(18+) Spanish. English subtitles. Runtime: 83 minutes. MOE11, 16.00.

The Qandil Mountains: Iranian director Taha Karimi sets his first dramatic feature against the violent and conflicted yet stunning backdrop of the Qandil mountains, where Iran, Turkey and Iraq meet.
(PG) Arabic, Kurdish. English subtitles. Runtime: 90 minutes. MOE6, 15.15.
Repeat screening

The Singer:
An insight into the era of dictatorship in Iraq, with the story of Bashir, a singer who is due to perform for the despot. Following a series of mishaps, Bashir is delayed, and scared. No-one in their right mind would dare to insult the ruler by being late. But nothing can be done. What happens to Bashir when he finally reaches the palace and faces the raging commander?
(18+) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 91 minutes. MOE2, 21.30.
World premiere

The Way Back: Set in 1942, director Peter Weir’s film begins with Janusz, a young Polish soldier, being sent to a gulag concentration camp, deep in the freezing wastes of Siberia. There he falls in with a disparate group of prisoners, with whom he plots an audacious escape plan that will take them across thousands of miles to sanctuary in British India.
(15+) English. Runtime: 132 minutes. Madinat Arena, 20.00.
Editor's pick, Gala screening

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. MOE7, 19.00.
World premiere

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives:
In this enchanting film, based on the memories of Boonmee’s life and those that came before, we follow the dying Buddhist’s recollections as he lies in bed, deep in the Thai countryside. His mind ranges over vast territories as his recollections weave in supernatural elements in compelling detail.
(18+) Thai. English subtitles. Runtime: 113 minutes. MOE1, 21.45.
Editors pick

When We Leave:
Set in the large Turkish community of Berlin, we follow the story of Umay, a young woman who has finally fled an abusive husband in Turkey to find sanctuary with her family in Germany. Her family is scandalised that she has left her marriage and beg her to reconsider, fearful of the negative stigma she will bring upon all of them.
(15+) German, Turkish. English subtitles. Runtime: 119 minutes. MOE1, 15.00.
Repeat screening

Wind: A small child steps on a rusty nail that infects his blood, like a pollutant in the ocean, in this allegorical short film.
(PG) Arabic. English subtitles. Runtime: 22 minutes. MOE10, 21.45.

On January 20 2009, five tenants of the Yongsan district in South Korea, who were forcefully evicted from their homes, staged a sit-in and were burned to death in their apartment block. This personal essay documentary by Mun Jyeon Hyun recalls the many movements of Korean civil rights and activism and asks where all the idealism went.
(15+) Korean. English subtitles. Runtime: 74 minutes. MOE8, 19.00.
Repeat screening

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