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Spotlight on Middle East at Osian film fest

india Updated: Jul 13, 2006 16:50 IST

Osian's Cinefan, the Eighth Asian Film Festival beginning in New Delhi on Friday will focus on exciting new cinema from Middle East.

Today and Tomorrow is the first Saudi Arabian feature film to participate in the festival. It is also the first film to star a Saudi actress. Earlier directors used to hire female actors from other countries.

Directed by Canada-based Palestinian filmmaker Izidore K Musallam, the women-centric social-romantic drama deals with issues like women's oppression, their secret romances and assertion of identity.

Nine other films from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Oman, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen will also feature in the festival.

The Dawn, a film by Oman-based director Khalid Abdul Rahim Al-Zadjali, is about the sea in its full glory. It depicts how fishermen drift to towns because the sea no longer yields a bumper crop of fish.

Other films will highlight the trials and tribulations of the Gulf nations.

For instance, multiple award-winner Paradise Now by Hany Abu-Assad focuses on suicide bombings, while Algerian film Hamlet of Women depicts how women are forced to take up arms after a terrorist attack.

Another film, Downtown Girls, by well-known Egyptian director Mohamed Khan, is an optimistic and romantic tale about marginalised Egyptians in present-day Cairo.

Two films by women directors - Flower Of Oblivion by Selma Baccar of Tunisia and Dunia by Lebanese director Jocelyne Saab - will also be screened during the festival.

The former traces the slow descent of a woman who gets addicted to poppy to combat delivery pains while the latter details how a young Egyptian girl hoping to become a professional dancer and writing a thesis on ecstasy in Sufi love poetry, must face complex social reactions to her ambitions.

The number of Arab films is few but they promise movie buffs something to look forward to. Most of them are personal statements and observations of contemporary society questioning tradition and examining the condition of women.

Several Arab filmmakers including Jocelyne Saab, Selma Baccar, Izidore Musallam, Khalid Abdul Rahim Al-Zadjali and Nidan al-Dibs are expected to attend the festival.

They will participate in the 'Cinema and Society: Arab Voices' session scheduled for July 18 at the Siri Fort Auditorium here.

The other attractions at the festival will be films on the Buddha to mark his 2,550th birth anniversary.

The festival also pay tribute to legendary Bengali director Ritwik Ghatak, who made films like Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960), Gandhar (1961) and Subarnarekha (1965), which examined the socio-economic implications of the Partition, as well as Hong Kong-based director Stanley Kwan.

Eminent author, critic and producer Peggy Chiao Hsuing-ping from Taiwan will be honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Apart from that New Theatres, Asian Frescoes, Indian Osian, In Tolerance and Cross Cultural Encounters are other interesting sections to look forward to.