The Abu Dhabi Film Festival will open on October 13 with the critically acclaimed Monsieur Lazhar by Philippe Falardeau. This classroom drama, one of the most gripping works to emerge in the last decade from Quebec, is Canada’s official entry for the coming Oscars.
Originally a one-character play by Evelyne de la Chenelière’s, set in a Montreal elementary school, the movie adaptation engages one with its tender study of loss and death. About a middle-aged Algerian immigrant who replaces a schoolteacher, who kills himself, the film is a pleasing character study that combines the simplest of human emotions with the more complex.
To run till October 22, the Festival will screen 200 movies from 43 countries, culled from a flood of 3000 entries.
Divided into several categories of competition (Narrative Feature, New Horizons, Our World, Documentary, etc) the films are a mix of documentaries and fiction by fledgling newcomers and established names. Black Pearl Awards will be given away for the Best Narrative Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and so on, each carrying a cash prize varying from USD 100,000 to USD 20,000.
Some highlights of the Narrative Features are Iran’s Absolutely Tame as a Horse , Tunisia’s Always Brando, Venice competition entry Chicken With Plums From France, Screenplay (based on Satrapi's graphic novel of the same name), David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method (also from Venice competition), Dark Horse (directed by Todd Solondz that also competed at Venice), Morocco’s Death for Sale, Japanese drama by Hirokazu Kore-Eda, I Wish, South African Lucky, Iran’s A Separation, Michael Winterbottom’s Trishna (with Frieda Pinto) and We Need To Talk About Kevin directed by Lynne Ramsay from the UK.
New Horizons will include stylistically fresh and refreshingly challenging works by first and second time helmers from India (Alms for the Blind Horse), America (Almost in Love), Egypt (Asma’a), Romania (Best Intentions), Morocco (The End), Lebanon (This Narrow Place), UAE (Sea Shadow) and Norway (Troll Hunter).