Italian cultural expert to the Gulf, Alessandra Priante, and the Italian ambassador to the UAE, Giorgio Starace, discuss the upcoming European Film Screenings festival which is premiering in the UAE.
What was the reason for bringing a European film festival to Abu Dhabi?
Giorgio Starace: We are now in the middle of the 2014 Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and we thought that cinema is one of the best ways to celebrate our culture as Europeans. We therefore decided to bring the cultures of Europe together by organising a film festival here in The Middle East.
How where the films chosen?
GS: Each participating Embassy has indicated a film of their choice, which would best represent their culture.
Is there a theme that runs through the films you chose? Or are they deliberately different genres?
Alessandra Priante: Our goal for each country was to highlight the role of our capital cities and therefore we encouraged our colleagues to propose a film along those lines. The theme took inspiration from our recent Oscar winning film La Grande Bellezza, which gives a bittersweet, magnificent portrait of the eternal city: Rome. The other films showcase the life of European cities in the same way.
Are you excited about showing emirati short films?
AP: Very much so. We think it’s dramatically important to have this dialogue always open both ways, so that we can continue to exchange culture around the world. And we are so lucky to have Dubai International Film Festival and Abu Dhabi International Film Festival (which is coming later this month) on board with us, for the event as a whole, but also as the main ‘collectors’ of local filmmaking talent. They are really the main platforms in the region that allows young emirati filmmakers to experience the industry and improve their abilities in the visual expression of their culture.
If we could only watch one film during the festival, which one would you suggest?
GS: The Italian film of course. La Grande Bellezza is opening the film festival in Abu Dhabi on September 18th at 8pm at VOX Cinemas, Marina Mall, Cinema 3. It’s also showing the following day, 8 pm at VOX Cinemas, Mercato Mall, Dubai.
The European Film Screenings Festival will run from Sept 18-24 at Vox Cinema, Marina Mall. For more information on the schedule of films showing visit www.timeoutabudhabi.com