The seventh Dubai International Film Festival (Diff) is showcasing an array of hard-hitting tales from the Arab world, Africa and Asia, their gripping social narratives making them a must-watch film experience. Among the must-watch films at Diff'10 are Baghdad Film School, Koundi and the National Thursday, Yongsan and Zelal.
Screening on Wednesday, Dec. 15 at 10 pm at Cinestar 9, Mall of the Emirates (MoE), is director Shuchen Tan’s ‘Baghdad Film School.’ The film is about Iraqi born filmmakers Maysoon Pachachi and Kasim Abid who developed the challenging idea to open up the first independent film school in Iraq. 'Baghdad Film School' is a story about film making in a post-war environment and what it takes to be an independent filmmaker in a country tormented by violence.
Director Ariane Astrid Atodji’s ‘Koundi and the National Thursday,’ screening on Dec. 14 at 3.15pm at Cinestar 6 of MoE, is about Koundi, a large village with around 1,200 inhabitants. Gorgeously shot, the film is a heartfelt look at life inside a communal society that seeks to balance the demands of globalisation and the search for uniquely African solutions.
Screening on Dec. 15, 7pm, at Cinestar 8 is director Jeong-hyun Mun’s ‘Yongsan,’ a stirring tale. On 20 January 2009, five tenants of the Yongsan district, who were forcefully evicted from their homes staged a sit-in and were burned to death in their apartment block. This personal essay documentary recalls the many movements of Korean civil rights and activism and asks where all the idealism went, even as the atrocities return today.
From the Arab world is ‘Zelal,’ a quiet masterpiece of hard-hitting reportage by directors Mustapha Hasnaoui and Marianne Khoury. Filmed in two large asylums, the film reveals the horrific conditions in which patients are expected to live - squalor and neglect is endemic, staff are stretched beyond breaking point, therapy and treatment seems non-existent.