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MEIFF to pay tribute to actress Jane Fonda

The Middle East International Film Festival 2008 announces its Special Presentation Films with ‘The Brothers Bloom’ to open MEIFF

The organizers of the second Middle East International Film Festival, to be held from October 10-19, announced the special presentations line-up today at a press conference held at the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH).

Unveiling the special presentation screenings were Vice Chairman of MEIFF and Director General of ADACH, Mohamed Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Project Coordinator Eissa Al Mazrouei, Executive Director Nashwa Al Ruwaini and Abdalla Bastaki, Director of the Emirates Film Competition.

“Abu Dhabi’s cultural project, with its future horizons and openness to the other, would not be completed without a strong presence of cinema which constitutes one of the major themes of contemporary culture. The Middle East International Film Festival, since its launch in October last year, constitutes the first crucial step on that long road,” said Mohamed Khalaf Al Mazrouei.

“The inaugural Middle East International Film Festival was a huge challenge as to start a new festival that strives to have a predominant role in the international festival world is not easy with over 3000 other festivals taking place every year around the world. We believe that universality does not happen except through regionalism the Festival serves Arab cinema, especially in the Emirates and the Gulf, and we are honored to have great Arabic titles both in and out of competition as well as a massive selection of international films. We aspire to serve the art of film from all over the world. This year we promise an experience not to be missed for cinema lovers and interesting industry initiatives that would cater for the Industry professionals. Our extended ten days of the festival along with the new and returning sections of the festival will add on to the quality of achieving status as a must attend festival” quoted Nashwa Al Ruwaini.

In its second year, MEIFF strives to become a centre for filmmakers in the region and internationally to meet and present their films in a city fast becoming the leading cultural centre in the Middle East. The international element of the Festival this year is truly reflected in the line up of films that we will be screening this year. Jon Fitzgerald, MEIFF’s Director of Programming stated “It was a real challenge trying to achieve a true balance between East and West in our programming due to the sheer excellence in submissions from both this part of the world and beyond. Our viewing committee and programmers have viewed over a thousand films in order to get to the stage we are at currently in finalizing the final slate.” The festival has films from over 35 countries and all the five continents scheduled to screen this year, with the competition films and the other programming sections due to be released over the coming weeks leading up to the festival.

This year’s MEIFF has expanded to ten days and the prize money for the prestigious Black Pearl Awards has been increased to more than one million US Dollars, giving MEIFF its own unique personality within the film festivals of the world.

Cinema Verite:
In addition to the special presentation films, organizers also announced a special event in partnership with Cinema Verite to pay tribute to the Oscar winning actress Jane Fonda. Cinema Verite is in an exhibition/screening space located in Paris, dedicated to social and humanitarian issues, associated with it is a fund that finances socially conscious films on a yearly basis and the international rendezvous yearly event that aims to bring together prominent directors, actors, politicians and leaders to address social issues. Jane Fonda has been an incredible success since her early screen performances in the 1960s and has been a dedicated political and social activist throughout her entire career. Joining Fonda for the event with Cinema Verite will be the icons of cinema including Susan Sarandon, and Carole Bouquet.

MEIFF Tribute:
A tribute honouring the great Tunisian director Nacer Khemir will also be held during MEIFF on his 60th birthday with a special screening of his film “Touaq al Hammama al Mafqoud,” based on the book by Ibn Hazem. Nasser is a theatre and film director as well as a poet, writer and painter. His films have won many awards worldwide and his famous theatrical show, “Al Hakawati” has appeared on stages in Africa, Europe and America. There have also been several exhibitions of his artwork in Tunis, Paris and other European cities as well as many illustrated books, joining together images and words.

Industry Initiatives:
Nashwa Al Ruwaini also announced that MEIFF will be launching the ‘MOST’ initiative during the Festival this year in conjunction with The Saban Center for Middle Eastern Policy at The Brookings Institute in Washington. ‘MOST’ stands for ‘Muslims on Screen and Television’ and will become a cultural resource center providing valuable resources and information on Islam and Muslims for the US entertainment community. Its aim is to meet the critical need for increased understanding and accurate representation on both sides during this time of great tension and mutual suspicion between the US and Muslim World.

MEIFF will also be launching the Arab Film Industry Research Circle that covers the current situation of Arab cinema in the Levant, Egypt, The Gulf and North Africa. This research circle aspires to shed light on the points of strengths and weaknesses in Arab cinema along with ways in which co-production initiatives can be achieved

MEIFF will also offer a symposium about the power of women in the entertainment industry. Which we will release more details on in the coming days.

The MEIFF 2008 Special Presentations to be screened are:

Opening Night Gala: The Brothers Bloom (USA), directed by Rian Johnson. Starring, Mark Ruffalo, Adrien Brody, Rachel Weisz, Maximilian Schell and Rinko Kikuchi.
Brothers Stephen and Bloom are orphans who bonded in childhood and were mentored into becoming the best con men in the world, swindling millionaires with complex scenarios of lust and intrigue. They’ve decided to take one last job before dissolving their partnership-showing a beautiful and eccentric heiress the time of her life with a thrilling adventure that takes them around the world.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (USA/Spain), directed by Woody Allen. Starring, Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Patricia Clarkson, Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz.
Vicky and Cristina visits Barcelona for the summer and becomes enamored with the artist Juan Antonio who they meet at an art exhibition and gets entwined with him and his beautiful but insane ex-wife. When they all became amorously entangled, the results can only be described as chaotic.

Miracle at St. Anna (USA/Italy), directed by Spike Lee. Starring Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso, John Turturro and Kerry Washington.
The film chronicles the story of four black American soldiers who are members of the US Army as part of the all-black 92nd Buffalo Soldier Division stationed in Tuscany, Italy during World War II. They experience the tragedy and triumph of war as they find themselves trapped behind enemy lines and separated from their unit after one of them risks his life to save an Italian boy.

The Lucky Ones (USA), directed by Neil Burger. Starring, Rachel McAdams, Tim Robbins and Michael Peña.
After suffering an injury during a routine patrol, hardened sergeant TK Poole is granted a one-month leave to visit his fiancé. But when an unexpected blackout cancels all flights out of New York, TK agrees to share a ride to Pittsburgh with two other stranded servicemen: Cheever and Colee and what begins as a short trip unexpectedly evolves into a longer journey.

Easy Virtue (UK), directed by Stephan Elliott. Starring, Jessica Biel, Kristen Scott Thomas, Colin Firth and Ben Barnes.
Larita, a Jazz Age race-car driver impulsively marries young Englishman John Whittaker in Monte Carlo and travels to England to meet his privileged and batty family who naturally, hate her. John’s mother and sisters try their best to sabotage the newlyweds while his father, develops a deep bond with the bride founded on their mutual appreciation for motorbikes and flouting social etiquette.

Igor (USA/France), directed by Anthony Leondis. Animated film with the voices of John Cusack, John Cleese, Steve Buscemi, Sean Hayes and Eddie Izzard.
In a world filled with mad scientists and evil inventions, one talented evil scientist's hunch-backed lab assistant, Igor, has big dreams of becoming a mad scientist himself and winning the annual Evil Science Fair.

Closing Night Film: Body of Lies (USA), directed by Ridley Scott. Starring, Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Mark Strong and Golshifteh Farahani.
A CIA operative, Roger Ferris, is sent to Jordan to track a high-ranking terrorist. The spy is aided by the head of Jordan's covert operations in an uneasy alliance that leads to cultural and moral clashes between the men.

MEIFF, held in Abu Dhabi, is an annual event and a project of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH). The Festival is a cultural event dedicated to bringing a diverse slate of international films and programs to the community and introducing filmmakers from around the world to the resources of the region.

This year’s MEIFF will see several new additions to an already exciting schedule. For the first time, there will be a section of the Festival concentrating on Environmental Films as well as a showcase of documentaries highlighting the 60 years since the division of Palestine. The prestigious Black Pearl Awards will also return in the second edition with the total prize money now exceeding $1 million in cash in the categories of fiction, documentary, animation, shorts, student films and animation.


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