Jean Jacques Annaud's Black Gold
One of the youngest international cinema festivals in the world, the Doha Tribeca Film Festival will open on October 25 in the Qatari capital with a French movie, Black Gold.
The Indian interest in the work will be Frieda Pinto, who was pushed into the global arena by Danny Boyle’s rags-to-riches story of Slumdog Millionaire, which incidentally led to the actress discovering a new love in her co-star, Dev Patel. With a quick succession of one important movie after another (Woody Allen’s You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, Middle Eastern drama, Miral, and Michael Winterbottom’s adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Trishna, which recently premiered at Toronto), Pinto has been literally on Cloud Nine. And Black Gold is bound to be another bright feather in her cap.
Directed by the renowned French auteur, Jean Jacques Annaud (Enemy at the Gates, Two Brothers, His Majesty Minor), Black Gold has been jointly produced by the Festival organiser, Doha Film Institute, and Quinta Communications. This is the first ever international co-production of the Institute.
Black Gold slotted as a world premiere will offer a fascinating insight into the Arab world, its traditions, customs and conventions.
Unfolding in the 1930s, Annaud’s movie plots the story of two warring Emirs, who eventually find peace through their families and a mutual respect for a “no-man’s land” lying between their kingdoms. But when oil is discovered on what was till then a barren stretch of sand, the prospect of wealth under the ground provokes a power struggle between the two rulers, shattering the peace of the place.
The other actors in the film are Ethiopian model Liya Kebede, Spanish soccer-player-turned actor Antonio Banderas (You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, Puss in Boots, Haywire) French-born Algerian star Tahar Rahim and British actor Mark Strong.
Black Gold’s truly international character gets a further fillip with a song by Qatari singer Fahad al-Kubaisi. Al Kubaisi, who cut his first album, Lesh (Why), in 2005, has rendered Black Gold’s opening track, recorded with the help of James Horner (Titanic, Troy, Avatar), at London’s Abbey Road Studios (once widely used by the Beatles). Al Kubaisi has also sung another number, a traditional Bedouin song, with the help of Qatari composer Abdulla Al Mannai.
Al Kubaisi said his opening track was originally intended for a few night scenes in Black Gold, but Horner later decided to give the song a premium slot, apart from using it on and off in the movie.
Sheikh Jabor Bin Yousuf Al Thani, a member of the Doha Film Institute, which organises the Festival, said “Black Gold is an important step in strengthening the foundations for a sustainable movie industry in Qatar…We hope the film will pave the way for future co-productions that showcase Arab talent and creativity in the right spirit, and send a message to the world that there is a viable Arab movie market here in Qatar, and throughout the Middle East.”
Amanda Palmer, Institute’s Executive Director, averred that “Black Gold will be released to Middle Eastern and international audiences through Warner Brothers and Universal Pictures on November 23, epitomising the Institute’s aim to make Qatar an important film location and nurture the local cinema industry.”
The Festival will screen 40 movies from the world over, and the event hopes to attract a record audience of 50,000 people, including journalists and film critics. Several community events, including the hugely popular family day, as well as panels, networking sessions and educational filmmaking programme will mark the Festival’s third edition.
The opening night will see a galaxy of stars walking up the Red Carpet at Doha’s Katara Cultural Village. The stars of Black Gold are expected at this gala, and Pinto too will hopefully arrive.
The Festival runs from October 25 to 29.