Dubai International Film Festival endorsed films head to Toronto for their global showcase


Dubai: September 05, 2012

By:Zulfiqar Shah

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) announced today that two works by Arab filmmakers, endorsed by Dubai Film Connection, will be shown at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), running from September 6th – 16th, 2012. Regarded internationally as one of the most successful cinematic events in the world, TIFF provides unique visibility and exposure to participating films.

The films screening at TIFF were selected and presented at the Dubai Film Connection, the co-production market of DIFF that aims to encourage the growth of film production in the Arab world. The award-winning director Annemarie Jacir’s “When I Saw You”, which won the Bahrain Film Production Company Award in 2008, has been shortlisted to participate in the prestigious Contemporary World Cinema section at TIFF as has “Fidai”, a fascinating and emotive documentary by filmmaker Damien Ounouri.

Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Artistic Director of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) commented: “Fostering opportunities for Arab filmmakers and supporting the development of the regional film industry are DIFF’s core aims. We are proud that the two films were chosen by the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), one of the most prestigious cinematic events in the world, to showcase the best of Arab cinema and expose the Arab perspective of storytelling to TIFF’s audience.”

Founded in 1976, Toronto International Film Festival is attributed as the launching pad for many artists and filmmakers as the place where their films first reached a receptive audience and the foundations of their careers were built. The festival now screens over 300 diverse films from more than 60 different countries annually.

“When I Saw You” by Annemarie Jacir,  takes place in Jordan, in 1967. Free-spirited eleven-year-old Tarek (Mahmoud Asfa) and his mother Ghaydaa (Ruba Blal) have temporarily settled in the Harir camp in Jordan, but in the chaos they have been separated from Tarek’s father Ghassan. Restless and uneasy, Tarek has trouble adjusting to the indignity of destitution and living on humanitarian handouts. Every day, he and his mother anxiously monitor the trucks unloading more and more refugees, longing to be reunited with Ghassan, but to no avail. Only a few miles away from the Harir camp, in the clandestine encampments that border Israel, the atmosphere is radically different, as armed Palestinian freedom fighters are training for battle to reverse the course of historic injustice and reclaim their lands and homes. When Tarek and his mother cross paths with this group of combatants, the boy is emboldened and chooses to stay with them, forcing his mother to follow suit.

“Fidai” by Damien Ounouri is a fascinating documentary in which Mohamed El Hadi Benadouda, a seventy-year-old veteran of the Algerian War of Independence, speaks about his years of struggle as an underground soldier for the National Liberation Front. On the fiftieth anniversary of Algeria’s independence, El Hadi recounts his hardship to his great-nephew Ounouri in “Fidai”, which is both a tribute to the anonymous heroes of a war that galvanised the imaginations of colonised people worldwide, and a critical reflection on the legacy that the war imprinted on the “new” Algerian society.