The 12th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival will open Wednesday, December 9, with Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, a deeply moving story of emotional and physical survival. Adapted from Emma Donoghue’ s 2010 bestselling novel (she also wrote the screenplay), Room, as the festival put it, is a ‘low-key gem’.
Driven by nuanced and impressive central performances, poignant and controlled, Room follows the dark story of five-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) who lives happily with his mother - whom he simply calls Ma (Brie Larson). But, they are held captive by a man, who kidnapped ‘Ma’ seven years earlier. The only world Jack knows is the shed they are kept in or ‘room’ as he calls it. That is until they plan an escape and their world changes yet again.
With the festivals at Doha and Abu Dhabi having packed up -- Dubai is the only such event in the region and, understandably, it seems to have attracted a larger number of movies, perhaps even a good selection. This year’s lineup boasts of a staggering 134 films from 60 countries, including 55 world and international premieres.
Watch the trailer of Kamal Swaroop’s documentary The Battle for Benaras here:
Two more Indian titles have been added to Thithi, Waiting and For the Love of a Man. These will be Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dhanak (Rainbow) and Kamal Swaroop’s documentary The Battle for Benaras. While Dhanak plots the story of a little girl determined to restore the sight of her younger brother, Swaroop documents the fierce election campaign in the holy city that saw Narendra Modi pitted against Arvind Kejriwal.
The festival will also have eminent juries. Deepa Mehta (renowned for her elements trilogy, Fire, Earth and Water) will head the Muhr Feature Competition, and she will have along with her Australian documentary filmmaker Tom Zubrycki; Egyptian Actor Khaled El Nabawy (whose roles in Hollywood include Kingdom of Heaven and Fair Game); Emirati poet and moviemaker Nujoom Al-Ghanem, (who has won three Muhr Awards at Dubai) and writer-director Maysoon Alpachchi.
The Muhr Short and Gulf Short jury will be led by Oscar-nominated Icelandic director Fridrik Thor Fridriksson. Joining him will be Tunisian helmer Hinde Boujemaa and Emirati director and producer Ali F Mostafa.
Oscar-winning Danish producer Kim Magnusson will chair the Muhr Emirati Competition jury. He will be assisted by Egyptian journalist Abdul Sattar Naji and Emirati television director Hessa Lootah.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is covering the Dubai International Film Festival.)