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Abu Dhabi announces the Official Competition

The Middle East International Film Festival – Abu Dhabi announces the Official Competition slate, with filmmakers competing for the coveted Black Pearl awards. “The production support awarded with the Black Pearl is truly one-of-a-kind,” said Nashwa Al-Ruwaini. “We are confident that it will help propel its recipient into the next level of filmmaking.”

“We are thrilled with the line-up of films we have in Competition,” said Festival Director Jon Fitzgerald. “They represent world-class talent, a terrific combination of critically acclaimed films, award winners and crowd pleasers.”

The Official Competition is primarily comprised of films by emerging directors. Filmmakers will compete in three sections: Fiction, Documentary and Short Films. Fiction will feature 12 films; Documentary section is comprised of six films; and the Short Film section features 18 films. The Black Pearl trophy is a handmade sculpture representing the exquisite black pearl, a rare and precious jewel originally discovered along the shallow waters of the Abu Dhabi coastline. It is a powerful symbol linked to the history and culture of Abu Dhabi.

Fiction Competition (12):

BEN X (Belgium) directed by Nic Balthazar. With Greg Timmermans, Marijke Pinoy, Laura Verlinden, Pol Goossen, Titus De Voogdt, Maarten Claeyssens.
Ben is a mildly autistic boy, frequently the target of school bullies. Inspired by his token online computer game, ArchLord, and Scarlite, a mystery girl he met in the game, Ben devises a plan.
**Official Belgian submission for the Academy Awards® Foreign Language Film. Received the Most Popular Film, the Grand Prix des Amériques, and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 2007 Montreal World Film Festival.

CARAMEL (France/Lebanon) directed by Nadine Labaki. WithNadine Labaki, Adel Karam, Yasmine Al Masri, Joanna Moukarzel, Gisele Aouad, Sihame Haddad.
A warm-hearted comedy following the lives of women working in a Lebanese beauty salon, where love, laughter and tears fight for attention.
**Official Lebanese submission for the Academy Awards® Foreign Language Film. Screened at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival and the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.

THE COUNTERFEITERS (Die Fälscher) (Germany/Austria) directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky. With Karl Markovics, August Diehl, Marie Bäumer, Devid Striesow.
In the biggest counterfeit money scam of all time, over 130 million sterling pounds are printed by a team of prisoners from German concentration camps.
**OfficialAustrian submission for the Academy Awards® Foreign Language Film. 2007 German Film Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role Award – Devid Striesow. Screened in Competition at the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival and the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival.

ECHO (Denmark) directed by Anders Morgenthaler. With Peter Stormare, Kim Bodnia, Sine Fischer Christensen, Villads Milthers Fritsche.
Simon is a police officer who recently lost custody of his six-year-old son in a divorce. In his desperation, he abducts his son and takes him to the country where they hide in a vacated summerhouse.
**Screened at the 2007 San Sebastian Film Festival and 2007 Danish Film Institute Festival.

THE GOOD NIGHT (USA/United Kingdom) directed by Jake Paltrow. WithPenélope Cruz, Martin Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Simon Pegg, Danny DeVito.
Gary Shaller is at a crossroads in his life. As a former pop star who now writes commercial jingles for a living, he experiences a mid-life crisis. Set in London and New York, the film follows a man's search for perfection in a world where life rarely measures up to idealized images.
**Premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and screened at 2007 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and the 2007 Moscow Film Festival.

GRACE IS GONE (USA) directed by James Strouse. With Nathan Adloff, John Cusack, Doug Dearth, Gracie Bednarczyk.
Upon hearing his wife was killed in the Iraq war, a father takes his two daughters on a road trip.
**Screened in Competition at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.

LA ZONA (Spain/Mexico) directed by Rodrigo Plá. With Daniel Giménez Cacho, Maribel Verdú, Daniel Tovar, Alan Chávez.
A teenager living inside an isolated residential ‘Zone,’ guarded by private security, finds himself protecting a boy accused of murder by his vigilante father and neighbors.
**Received the 2007 Toronto FIPRESCI International Critics’ Award and the Luigi De Laurentiis Award at the 2007 Venice Film Festival.

LUCKY MILES (Australia) directed by Michael James Rowland. With Kenneth Moraleda, Rodney Afif, Srisaco Sacopraseuth, Don Hany, Glenn Shea, Sean Mununggurr, Sawung Jabo, Arif Hidayat.
When a group of Iraqi and Cambodian refugees are abandoned in a remote part of Western Australia, three of the men escape arrest and begin an epic journey through the desert.
**Received the Audience Award for Best Feature at the 2007 Sydney Film Festival and the Special Jury Prize at the 2007 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

THE MILKY WAY (A Via Láctea) (Brazil) Directed byLina Chamie. With Marco Ricca, Alice Braga, Fernando Alves Pinto.
Heitor and Júlia are deeply in love. After a heated phone conversation, he decides to go and see her face-to-face. On his way through the streets of São Paulo at sunset, Heitor observes the city as it begins to interfere in his thoughts.
**Received Casa de América Award at the 2006 San Sebastian Film Festival and screened at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.

NOT BY CHANCE (Não Por Acaso) (Brazil) directed by Philippe Barcinski and produced by Fernando Meirelles. With Rodrigo Santoro, Leonardo Medeiros, Letícia Sabatella, Branca Messina, Rita Batata, Graziela Moretto, Cássia Kiss, João Paulo Zucatelli.
Two men have never met, but they have a common lifestyle based on precision, control and method, until an unpredictable accident involving two women will forever change the course of their lives.
**Received the Alfred P. Sloan Grant at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab and the Best Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress Awards at the 2007 Recife CE PE Audiovisual Festival. Developed at Sundance Screenwriters Lab.

THE OWL AND THE SPARROW ((Cú và chim se se) (United States/Vietnam) directed by Stephane Gauger. With Cat Ly, Le The Lu, Pham Thi Han.
A beautiful flight attendant looking for love; a lonely zookeeper hiding within his animal kingdom from a changing society; a little orphan girl selling roses on the streets. It’s modern-day Saigon, where eight million people are just trying to keep up with the pace.
**Received the Audience Award and Best Narrative Feature at the 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival and the Best Narrative Feature at the 2007 San Francisco Asian American Film Festival. Screened at the 2007 Rotterdam International Film Festival.

PERSEPOLIS (France) directed by Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud. With Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, Simon Abkarian, Gabrielle Lopes, François Jerosme.
A poignant coming-of-age story about a precocious and outspoken young Iranian girl that begins during the Islamic revolution.
** Official French submission for the Academy Awards® Foreign Language Film. Awarded the 2007 Cannes Jury Prize. Screened at the 2007 Telluride Film Festival, in Special Presentations at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, and will be the Closing Night Film at the New York Film Festival.

Documentary Competition (6):

HEAR AND NOW (USA) directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky. WithPaul Taylor, Sally Taylor.
A documentary memoir following a filmmaker's deaf parents as they receive a complex surgical implant that allows them to experience sound for the first time.
**Received the Audience Award at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.

I LOVE HIP HOP IN MOROCCO (Morocco/USA) directed by Joshua Asen and Needleman. WithAchraf Aarab, Adil Benchakeroune, Amine Yahyaou, Azzedine Bouhoute, Fatima Medaoui, Hatim Bensaleha, Joshua Asen, Khalid Douache, Khalid Filalli, Khalifa Mennani, Khalil Belkas, Mohassine Tizaf, Othman Benhami, Ouassim Addoula, Taofik Hazeb.
A group of Moroccan Hip Hop artists dream of organizing a professional concert in their hometown, but resistance is strong and money scarce.
**Received the Best Documentary at the 2007 Atlanta Hip Hop Festival and the Jury Award at the 2007 Thin Line Fest. Screened at the 2007 H20 International Hip Hop Festival and the 2007 Rhode Island International Film Festival.

NEW YEAR BABY (USA/ Cambodia) directed by Socheata Poeuv. WithNin Poeuv , Houng Poeuv, Socheata Poeuv, Scott Poeuv, Leachena Poeuv, Mala Poeuv.
A window into the lives of six Cambodians who escape the Khmer Rouge genocide and become Americans .
**Received the ‘Movies That Matter’ Award at the 2006 Amsterdam Documentary Film Festival, the Best Documentary at the 2007 AFI Dallas International Film Festival, the Audience Award at the 2007 Los Angeles VC Film Festival, Best Documentary at the 2007 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.

THE POWER OF THE GAME (USA) directed by Michael Apted. With Danny Jordaan, Landon Donovan, Bruce Arena, Malin Gorji, Fabian Ferraro, Zeshan Rehman, Jimmy Adjovi-Bocco.
An examination of the social impact of soccer across the world. Six stories are followed from five continents, each one connected to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, all bound together with a passion for the game.
**Screened at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.

SALATA BALADI (Egypt/France/Switzerland) directed by Nadia Kamel. With Nadia Kamel, Mary Kamel, Sa’ad Kamel.
A multilingual and multiethnic documentary about director Nadia Kamel’s family’s century-old history of mixed marriages.
** Premiered at 2007 Locarno Film Festival.

WE ARE TOGETHER (United Kingdom) directed by Paul Taylor. With Mbali, Mthobisi Moya, Nonkululeko Moya, Sifiso Moya, Slindile Moya, Swaphiwe Moya, Zodwa Mqadi, Paul Simon, Kanye West.
A documentary about life in an African orphanage where the children are united by a love of singing.
**Received the Audience Award at the 2007 Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Audience Award and the Special Jury Prize at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival, and the Audience Award and the First Appearance Award at the 2007 Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival.

Short Film Competition (18):

AND LIFE WENT ON (United Kingdom) directed by Maryam Mohajer. With Azadeh Sepehri, Houman Hajiabdollahi, Katayoun Ghalandarha, Kaveh Ghalandarha, Leyla Hosseini, Rojin Bitaraf, Roshan Hooshmand, Salimeh Ghotbi. Animation.
As an air raid siren resonates in Tehran, neighbors rush to the basement shelter, where we see how people react…. and it’s not always as one might expect!
**Premiered at theEksjö Animation Festival 2007, the DOK-Leipzig Animation and Documentary Festival 2007, London International Animation Festival 2007.

AQUARIUM (USA) directed by Rob Meyer. With Jeremy White, Kaitlin Kiyan, Zachary Brian, Matthew Simpson, James Lurie, Maggie Phillips, Christopher Smith, Matt Campbell, Barbara Ann Davidson, Kurt Braunohler, PK Egersheim, Denn Wise.
David, a 15-year-old social misfit, escapes the trials of Boston suburban life to the exotic world of breeding aquarium fish. David and his friends make their way to a Boston Aquarium Society meeting where David finds legitimacy when he shares a tender moment with his secret crush.
** Received the Best Narrative Short at the Hollyshorts Film Festival 2007 and the Best Student Short at the Las Vegas Film Festival 2007.

AVATAR (Spain) directed by Lluis Quilez. With Sebastian Haro, Rosana Pastor, Gerard Villegas.
An intimate portrait of a quadriplegic man and his embittered wife in her newfound role as his caregiver. The strain of his injury on their marriage comes to the ultimate showdown in a sadistic game of life and death.
** Best Short Jury Award at the 2006 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. Screened at the 2007 Slamdance Film Festival and the 2006 Cardiff Film Festival.

BAWKE (Norway) directed by Hisham Zaman. With Broa Rasol, Sedar Ahmad Saleh.
Two Kurdish refugees from Iraq, a father and his son are on the run. With hope for a better life for his son, the father is forced to make a challenging sacrifice to provide for him.
** Received the Best Live Action Short at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, the Best of Festival at the 2006 Palm Springs International Film Festival, the Youth Award at the 2006 San Sebastian Film Festival, the Best Short at the 2007 Tokyo Film Festival.

BENDE SIRA (It’s My Turn) (Germany/Turkey) directed by Ismet Ergün. With Semih & Samet Aslan, Mert Metin Ozdemir, Kadir Tezer, Lorin & Tuana Merhard, Coskun Duz and Sadi Somer.
A group of children listen, enchanted, to a friend who has had the good fortune of going to the cinema and recounts the film to them. Then one day they are all able to go together. Or almost…
** Received the Silver Leopard Award and the Eastman Kodak Award at the 2007 Locarno International Film Festival.

THE BRASS TEAPOT (USA) directed by Ramaa Mosley. With Traci Dinwiddie, Ben Weber.
When a British housewife and her husband buy a magic antique teapot, they get more than they bargained for.
**World Premiere

HOY NO ESTOY (Argentina) directed by Gustavo Taretto. With Ines Efron, Norma Maldonado, Esmeraldo Mitre, Martin Piroyansky, Fabian Talin.
One day, Martin decides to fade into the urban landscape and completely disappear from view.
**Received the Gold Leopard Award at the2007Locarno International Film Festival 2007 and screened at the 2007 Sao Paulo International Film Festival.

I MET THE WALRUS (Canada) directed by Josh Raskin. With Jerry Levitan, John Lennon. Animation.
In 1969, 14-year-old Beatle fanatic Jerry Levitan, armed with a reel-to-reel tape deck, snuck into John Lennon's hotel room in Toronto and convinced him to do an interview. **Received the Spirit Award at the 2007 Brooklyn International Film Festival and the Outstanding Animation Award at the 2007 Winnipeg International Film Festival. Screened at the 2007 LA Shorts Fest.

I WANT TO BE A PILOT (Kenya/Mexico/Spain) directed by Diego Quemada-Diez. With Collins Otieno, Gaudencia Ayuma Shichenga, Kepha Onduru, Joseph Kyalo Kioko.
A poetic visual of the desperation felt by AIDS orphans living in Kenyan slums and their dreams of one day having the opportunity to leave.
**Received the Audience Award for Best Short at the 2006 Los Angeles Film Festival, the Best Documentary Short Film at the 2007 Cleveland International Film Festival, the YouthFEST Short Film Award at the 2007 Sarasota Film Festival.

JUANITO BAJO EL NARANJO (Juanito Under the Orange Tree) (Colombia) directed by Juan Carlos Villamizar. With Santiago Sanchez Penuela, Juan Jose Diaz Arango, Juan David Sanchez Penuela, Diego Velez, Martha Leal.
A young boy in Colombia’s mountainside, Juanito wants to eat the oranges his father bought for his pregnant mother. Unable to restrain himself, Juanito eats one and buries the peels under the ground. Little does he know that he will awaken with an orange tree growing out of his head.
** Received the Best Short Film at the 2007 Puchon International Film Festival.

KEMO SABE (USA) directed by Rana Kazkaz. With Kyle Agnew, Gabriel Gonzalez, Sebastian Gonzalez, Zachary Gray, Emily Guyumjian, Yasmine Hanani, Garrett Johnson, Armen Kasumyan, Amin Monajjed, Navid Negahban, Jacob Newman
This is a story of Yussef, a six-year-old Arab-American boy who dreams of being the Cowboy instead of the Indian on the playground. Daring to challenge the role his race has determined, Yussef learns the playground rules of becoming a Cowboy.
**Screened at the 2007 Edmonton International Film Festival and the 2007 Chicago Palestine Film Festival.

LIGHTNING DOODLE PROJECT PIKAPIKA (Japan) directedbyTakeshi Nagata, Kazue Monno.Animation.
This animation is composed of a collection of long exposure photographs taken in various places all over the world.
**Screened at the 2007Platform International Animation Festival and the 2006 Ottawa International Animation Festival.

LOOKING GLASS (Sweden) directed by Erik Rosenlund. Animation.
A little girl is home alone watching television when it suddenly turns off. She can see her reflection in the screen, which seems to have a conscience of its own. At the same time someone outside seems to be watching her through the window.
**Screened at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, 2007 São Paulo International Film Festival, 2007 Goteberg Film Festival.

THE LUMINARY (Australia) directed by Nicholas Kallincos. Animation.
This is the story of a grieving insect collector. In his search for understanding and love he is pitted against the cyclic nature of things both inside and outside of his reclusive world.
**Screened at the 2006 Seattle International Film Festival, 2006 KROK International Animated Film Festival, 2007 Sao Paulo International Film Festival, 2006 Interfilm Short Film Festival.

MANON ON THE PAVEMENT (France) directed by Elizabeth Marre, Olivier Pont. With Aude Léger, Xavier Boiffier, Bastien Ehouzan, Edouard Raix, Elizabeth Marre, Yves Lecoz, Yasmeen El Masri, Samuel Lahu.
Manon is in a cycling accident and as everyone bustles around her, her thoughts wander to the relationships with the people in her life and what her family, friends and lovers mean to her.
**Screened at the 2007 Namur International Film Festival.

THE PHONE KEEPER (USA) directed by Stine Michelsen. With Damon Younger, Brooke Stone, Jeff Patterson, Juilan Kinsman, Fernando Viso.
Valdemar lives and works in Rodney's answering machine. One day he falls in love with Sophia, a caller who leaves a message on the machine. To save her from certain heartbreak, he sabotages Sophia’s date with Rodney.
**Screened at the 2007Palm Springs Festival of Short Films, 2007 Montana Independent Film Festival.

THE TALE OF HOW (South Africa) directed by Ree Treweek, Marcus Smit. Animation.
Thisis a voyage through a surreal landscape populated with duck-like creatures being ravaged by a tentacled sea monster, Otto. In the end, a cute, mousey hero named Eddy the Engineer bursts onto the scene to save the day, making for a tidy little narrative that is both strangely familiar and incredibly odd.
**Screened at the 2007 Sarajevo Film Festival, 2007 International Short Film Festival Clermont-Ferrand, and received a Special Distinction at the 2007 Annecy Film Festival.

TANGHI ARGENTINI (Belgium) directed by Guy Thuys. With Wannes Cappelle, Ineke Nijssen, Hile Norga, Mathius Sercu, Dirl van Dijck, Koen van Impe.
Despite the faceless and cold atmosphere at his work place, an office clerk tries to make his colleagues happy. Instead of the cliché Christmas gifts, Andre goes to great lengths to give his colleagues something real and precious in this modern fairy-tale.
**Received the Best Belgian Short at the 2006 Flanders International Film Festival Ghent and the Best Film of the Festival Award at the 2007 La Cittadella Del Corto International Short Film Festival. Screened at the 2007 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival.

TATOO (USA) directed by Parviz Safadel. Animation.
A man who is bored with his life gets a tattoo of a bird on his chest, which serves as a catalyst to set them both free.
**Screened at the 2007 Palm Springs International Short Film Festival, 2007 Tirana International Film Festival.

The Middle East International Film Festival – Abu Dhabi (MEIFF) 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. Presented by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH), MEIFF is committed to nurturing relationships and providing opportunities to those looking to invest in the future of film. In this regard, the Festival will launch the inaugural Film Financing Circle (FFC), which will become a significant annual conference on the subject of international co-productions. MEIFF debuts October 14-19, 2007 and FFC launches October 15-17, 2007. Abu Dhabi is a city unprecedented in its ability to develop and grow in response to the global marketplace.


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