Abu Dhabi Film Fest - glitz of films, glamour of stars

Abu Dhabi, Oct 23 (IANS) In its seventh edition, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF), a young but popular annual extravaganza of the Gulf region, will present a heady dose of 'edutainment' through its enticing line-up of 166 films when it starts here Thursday. Watch out for nine Indian gems too!

From India, black-and-white classics like master craftsman Guru Dutt's "Pyaasa", about the struggle of a poet in post-independence India, and Ritwik Ghatak's "Subarnarekha", that delves into the trauma of a refugee's life, will be showcased as part of the "Celebrating Indian Cinema" special programme here.

As a tribute to Indian cinema's centenary year, ADFF has handpicked gems like Mani Kaul's "Duvidha", M.S. Sathyu's "Garm Hava" and Jahnu Barua's Assamese film "Halodhia Choraye Baodhan Khai" for screening here.

That apart, Irrfan Khan-starrer Punjabi movie "Qissa", set in post-1947 era and Marathi movie "Fandry" by Nagraj Manjule, based on India's caste system, Aparna Sen's horror comedy "Goynor Baksho" and Richie Mehta's "Siddharth" will represent the new wave that has swept across the $2 billion industry.

Film aficionados in this oil-rich region can look forward to a 10-day treat with ADFF, which will open with Daniel Schechter's "Life Of Crime", starring Jennifer Aniston and Tim Robbins. It follows the misfortunes of two small-time criminals who hit it off in prison and decide to join forces for a big score on the outside.

The movies have come in from 51 countries for the fest, which includes six competition categories -- Narrative, Documentary, New Horizons, Our World, Short and Emirates Film Competitions -- along with the non-competitive section, Showcase.

Entries from countries like Algeria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Haiti, India, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tunisia, UAE, Britain and the US have made their way to the ADFF screens.

Describing the line-up this year, Ali Al Jabri, ADFF director said: "We have secured films that are delighting audiences and making waves around the world. It is a heady and stimulating mix of the best of international and Arab cinema, with something for the young as well as the old."

"There's entertainment for the family, as well as more challenging films for cinema buffs and arm-chair critics," he added.

Come Thursday, the majestic Emirates Palace, the premier venue for the gala, and the Marina Mall near it, will come alive with cine stars, filmmakers and movie buffs, flocking to see some of the world's best works on celluloid. Popular names are expected to attend the event, but the line-up remains to be unveiled.

For Arab films "this is arguably the best year yet", said Jabri, stressing on the "record number" of Arab films that will have their world premiere at ADFF, which is powered by media and entertainment hub twofour54 Abu Dhabi.

The sidebar programmes include the Black Pearl Career Achievement Award, which will be presented to Palestinian actress Hiam Abbas, who has enchanted audiences for over 20 years; Debut Films by Arab Filmmakers, which helps newcomers overcome difficulties they face in reaching wider audiences; Pieces of Time: Classic Odysseys - The Art of Preserving and Restoring Cinema; and celebrations of Indian cinema's centenary year.

While filmmakers participating in the competitions compete for the Black Pearl Awards, this year, the festival is introducing a new award category recognising films which deal with the subject of child protection.

There will also be masterclasses galore in a bid to bridge the gap between upcoming talents and producers, co-producers, sales agents, distributors, marketing executives and representatives from film funds from across the globe.

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