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Abu Dhabi’s Film Festival continues to release its program highlights

The much-anticipated third edition of the Middle East International Film Festival today announced the sixteen selections to be screened out of competition in its World Cinema Showcase lineup.

Peter Scarlet, the Festival’s Executive Director commented, “The lineup for World Cinema Showcase presents an impressive group of films, many of which have already earned recognition at other international film festivals around the world this past year.”

MEIFF’s World Cinema Showcase offers a plethora of not-to-be-missed films including About Elly (Iran), award winner at Berlin and Tribeca, Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire (USA), Audience Award winner at Sundance Film Festival, and the Red Riding Trilogy (UK), which was described by famed critic David Thomson as “One of the most ambitious works of 2009 or any recent year… a tragic achievement that surpasses that of The Godfather".

A complete list of all the films selected for this year’s World Cinema Showcase can be found below:

About Elly (Darbareye Elly) by Asghar Farhadi, Iran 2009 (GULF PREMIERE)
About Elly follows a group of college friends celebrating the return of their friend from abroad. When one guest mysteriously disappears, the joyous occasion quickly becomes one filled with suspicion and half-truths. Asghar Farhadi’s multi-award-winning feature is an astute portrait of contemporary Iran.

Burma VJ – Reporting from a Closed Country (Burma VJ - Reporter i et lukket land), by Anders Hosbro Ostergard, Denmark 2008 (MIDDLE EAST PREMIERE)
In 2007, Buddhist monks in Rangoon led a peaceful anti-government uprising against the military dictatorship of Burma. A group of video journalists armed only with cell phones and digital cameras secretly filmed the demonstrations, at the risk of torture and imprisonment.

Farewell (L'Affaire Farewell) by Christian Carion, France 2009 (MIDDLE EAST PREMIERE)
Tense, fact-based drama features a riveting Emir Kusturica as a KGB officer and Guillaume Canet as a civilian who becomes a go-between and passes secret information that helps bring down the Iron Curtain.

Honeymoons (Medeni Mesec) by Goran Paskaljevic, Serbia/Albania 2009 (MIDDLE EAST PREMIERE)
One of the acknowledged modern masters of Balkan cinema offers a soulful discourse about a new generation of immigrants, in the first joint Serbian–Albanian film production in history.

Kerala Café by Ranjith, India 2009 (MIDDLE EAST PREMIERE)
In this omnibus film masterminded, produced, and overseen by Ranjith – the first such collaborative effort in Malayalam cinema – 10 directors each tell a story of life in modern-day Kerala.

My Heart Beats Only for Her (Ma Hataftu Li Ghayriha) by Mohamed Soueid, Lebanon 2008 (INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE)
A son retraces his father’s journeys among the ranks of revolutionary fighters in Lebanon in the 1970s, guided by a notebook and sketchy autobiographical notes.

Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (Gake no ue no Ponyo) by Hayao Miyazaki, Japan 2008 (GULF PREMIERE)
Japan’s master animator (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke) heads to the seas with this ecstatic fairy tale of a little goldfish princess who becomes a girl and the small boy who becomes her friend.

Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire by Lee Daniels, USA 2009 (MIDDLE EAST PREMIERE)
Lee Daniels’ second film is tremendously affecting. At its heart is Claireece “Precious” Jones – an obese African-American teen morbidly who is abused emotionally by her mother and physically by her mother’s boyfriend. Superbly acted by a cast of unknowns who are ably joined by Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz.

Originally made for British TV, the Red Riding Trilogy is “One of the most ambitious works of 2009 or any recent year… a tragic achievement that surpasses that of The Godfather," wrote famed critic David Thomson. Each film is a complete work on its own, but they be should be seen in chronological order for maximum impact.

Red Riding 1974 by Julian Jarrold, UK 2009
In this ruthless English neo-noir set in the dreary, postindustrial landscape of 1974 northern England, someone is murdering young girls, but the police seem more interested in hounding local gypsies and Irish than solving the crimes. When a young journalist investigates, he uncovers a web of deception.

Red Riding 1980 by James Marsh, UK 2009
In the second installment, big-city cop Peter Hunter (Paddy Considine, Dead Man's Shoes, in a note-perfect performance) takes up the “Yorkshire Ripper” case, but has to contend with resistance from the insulated local community. Directed by James Marsh (Man on Wire) in a cool, modernist aesthetic, 1980 moves deeper into the shadowy world and moral ambiguity of England at the time.

Red Riding 1983 by Anand Tucker, UK 2009
In the final chapter, another young girl disappears in conditions similar to those of the 1974 murders, a hard-case detective (David Morrissey) and a slow-moving solicitor (Mark Addy) begin to realize that evil may not only be still on the loose, but flourishing. Directed by Anand Tucker, 1983 is a fitting, chilling end to the trilogy, which has been compared to such masterworks as The Wire and The Sopranos.

The September Issue by R.J. Cutler, USA 2009 (MIDDLE EAST PREMIERE)
Each September Vogue magazine releases its most important issue, and its impact is greater than that of any other single fashion publication. Filmmaker R.J. Cutler’s documentary offers a candid, revealing look at editor Anna Wintour and the arduous, demanding process behind the creation of the 2007 issue.

Tales from the Golden Age (Amintiri din Epoca de aur) by Razvan Marculescu, Cristian Mungiu, Hanno Hofer, Ioana Uricaru, Constantin Popescu, Romania/France 2009 (MIDDLE EAST PREMIERE)
The most acclaimed “New Wave” today is in full flourish in this picaresque quintet from Romania’s brightest new directors, led by Cannes winner Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days). Five delightfully absurdist tales of life during the repressive Ceausescu era brim with wit, camaraderie, and laughter.

Valentino: The Last Emperor by Matt Tyrnauer, USA 2008 (MIDDLE EAST PREMIERE)
The world of haute couture comes to life in this globetrotting portrait of fashion icon Valentino, the Italian designer who has dressed everyone from Jackie O to Princess Diana to Gwyneth Paltrow. Directed by a longtime Vanity Fair editor who gives us access to Valentino’s luxurious world of high glamour.

Wild Grass (Les Herbes folles) by Alain Resnais, France/Italy 2009 (MIDDLE EAST PREMIERE)
In New Wave veteran Alain Resnais’s latest film, middle-aged Georges (André Dussolier) finds the stolen handbag of Marguerite, a strong-willed dentist and pilot (Sabine Azéma). This incident triggers a series of increasingly absurd scenarios in this surreal, whimsical, fantasia that speaks to the intricacies of romance and love.

The Wind Journeys (Los viajes del viento) by Ciro Guerra, Colombia/Argentina/Netherlands 2009 (MIDDLE EAST PREMIERE)
An elderly nomadic minstrel and his teenage apprentice embark on a journey to return an accordion in this musical road trip across Colombia’s remarkable natural beauty, featuring some astonishing musical performances.

Yuki and Nina by Nobuhiro Suwa, Hippolyte Girardot, France/Japan 2009 (MIDDLE EAST PREMIERE)
Two young girls must deal with the devastating effects of divorce in this striking effort co-directed by a French man and a Japanese woman. When Yuki learns that her parents are separating, she and her best friend Nina devise a plan to keep the parents together. When that fails, the two flee to the woods, where magical things happen…

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