MEIFF closes in style

Orlando Bloom and Eva Mendes stop for a Time Out chat

The second Middle East International Film Festival came to a close last night, with Orlando Bloom, Naomi Watts and Eva Mendes bringing the requisite eye candy to the red carpet.

Speaking exclusively to Time Out Abu Dhabi, Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings) said he didn’t see much of the festival, but had managed to squeeze in a bit of business. ‘It’s great to be here,’ he told us. ‘I’ve got a production company that I started – been running for a couple of years – and I’m looking at financing movies, and it’s an exciting place for that kind of thing.’

Naomi Watts (King Kong, Mulholland Drive) agreed that working in this region was not something she’d rule out, though her main reason for being here seemed to be more R&R related. ‘I’m rarely with a moment to myself,’ she explained, ‘so I enjoyed lying on the beach today without the children. It’s very rare, so I just indulged myself. I lay on the beach and slept in ‘til 11 o’clock, which I never ever do! I feel bad that I haven’t done any exploring, but you always hope that there’ll be a next time. I had all these aspirations to do things, but sometimes you just have to give in and do what your body needs you to.’

Eva Mendes caused pandemonium in the largely male photography pit, working the carpet like a seasoned catwalk pro. Admitting that she’d seen nothing of the city so far, let alone the festival, she told us that she found the event exciting nonetheless. ‘It’s a very personal film festival because it has brought me to this side of the world that I’ve never been to before. I was warned that it was very hot, and I love the heat, so I’m very happy. I love a very hot summer balmy night. I look forward to coming back to really go around and sightsee and get to know the culture.’

The final act of the festival, a gala showing of The Men Who Stare at Goats, was deflated slightly by the no-show of any of the film’s stars. Peter Scarlett, festival director, bemoaned their absence before bring on a small herd of goats ‘to stare at men’. It was an unfortunately crass ending to a festival that many feel has been a great success, with attendances 300 per cent up on 2008.

Awards and winners

Narrative Feature Competition
• Black Pearl Award for Best Narrative Film ($100,000) – Hipsters (Stilyagi), directed by Valery Todorovsky (Russia)

• Black Pearl Award for Best New Narrative Director ($50,000) – Glendyn Ivin, Last Ride (Australia)

• Black Pearl Award for Best Middle Eastern Narrative Film ($100,000) – The Time That Remains (Al Zaman Al Baqi), directed by Elia Suleiman (Palestine, UK, Italy, Belgium, France)

• Black Pearl Award for Best New Middle Eastern Narrative Director ($50,000) – Pelin Esmer, 10 to 11 (11’e 10 Kala), Turkey, France, Germany

• Black Pearl Award for Best Actor ($25,000) – Hamed Behdad, No One Knows About Persian Cats, directed by Bahman Ghobadi (Iran)

• Black Pearl Award for Best Actress ($25,000) – Alicia Laguna and Sonia Couoh, Northless (Norteado), directed by Rigoberto Pérezcano (Mexico)

Documentary Feature Competition
• Black Pearl Award for Best Documentary Film ($100,000) – The Frontier Gandhi: Badshah Khan, A Torch for Peace, directed by T. C. McLuhan (Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, USA)

• Black Pearl Award for Best New Documentary Director ($50,000) – Johan Grimonprez, Double Take (Netherlands, Belgium)

• Black Pearl Award for Best Middle Eastern Documentary Film ($100,000) – On the Way to School (İki Dil Bir Bavul), directed by Orhan Eskiköy and Özgür Doğan (Turkey)

• Black Pearl Award for Best New Middle Eastern Documentary Director ($50,000) – Mohamed Zran, Being Here (Zarzis), Tunisia

Short Film Competition
• Black Pearl Award for Best Narrative Short ($25,000) – The Six Dollar Fifty Man, directed by Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland (New Zealand)

• Black Pearl Award for Best Documentary Short ($25,000) – Wagah, directed by Supriyo Sen and Najaf Bilgrami (Pakistan, India, Germany)

• Black Pearl Award for Best Middle Eastern Short ($25,000) – Tripoli, Quiet (Trablos Al‐Hada), directed by Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia (Lebanon)

• Black Pearl Award for Best Student Short – First Prize ($15,000) – Anna, directed by Runar Runarsson (Denmark)

• Black Pearl Award for Best Student Short – Second Prize ($10,000) – Kasia, directed by Elisabet Llado (Belgium)

• Black Pearl Award for Best Student Short – Third Prize ($5,000) – Schautag, directed by Marvin Kren (Germany)

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