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Abu Dhabi will run a program of silent film comedies

The 2009 Middle East International Film Festival in Abu Dhabi today announced a special program of silent film comedies to be shown in pristine archival prints and accompanied by live music. The festival is proud to present “LAUGH TILL IT HURTS” Friday, October 16 at 4pm at the Cinestar Cinemas in the Marina Mall.

The films to be presented include early 2-reelers by two of the titans of silent film comedy, Charlie Chaplin (The Immigrant, 1916) and Buster Keaton (One Week, 1920), along with a pair of equally hilarious shorts by lesser known but equally brilliant film clowns, Charley Chase, master of comic embarrassment, (Mighty Like a Moose, 1926) and Charley Bowers, who utilized extraordinary stop-motion animation work in his unforgettable Egged On, 1927. The internationally renowned pianist and composer Neil Brand will provide live keyboard accompaniment for the program. His work has been described by the UK’s Guardian Newspaper as ‘elevating silent movies from slapstick to subtle ballet’. This MEIFF program is presented in association with the Silent Film Festival, which has been held in the northern Italian town of Pordenone for the past 28 years.

Peter Scarlet, MEIFF’s Executive Director, explained that this is a program he is especially proud of since it may mark a first. “I’m going out on a limb here, since I’ve only lived here for a few months,” he commented, “but I haven’t been able to find any references to public screenings of silent films ever having taken place here. And if they did, they almost certainly were not with the sorts of magnificent prints as those we’ll be showing, nor is it likely they were presented with an accompaniment as brilliantly professional as the one Neil Brand will be providing.”

“It will be a wonderful introduction to how amazingly effective silent movies were and still are. And it’s a not-to-be-missed experience, whether you’re just coming with the family for an afternoon’s entertainment, or you’re a dyed-in-the-wool film buff starved for an authentic glimpse of some of the key works that helped establish the language of the movies as we know them today,” he continued.

Neil Brand will also be offering an illustrated lecture “The Silent Pianist Speaks” as one of the MEIFF Master Classes on Thursday, October 15 at 11am. Full details of the Master Classes program can be found on the MEIFF website.

Other MEIFF screenings will be presented at the Emirates Palace Hotel (Auditorium), Cinestar Cinemas at the Marina Mall and Grand Cinemas at the Abu Dhabi Mall. Additional festival events, such as the Master Classes, will take place at the MEIFF Festival Tent on the main terrace, behind Emirates Palace Hotel. The Festival Tent will be open to the public throughout the festival from noon to 2am.

Tickets go on sale September 28, and can be purchased online at or in person every day from noon to 10 pm at any of the four festival box offices. Box offices are located at Emirates Palace Hotel at the main entrance lobby and on the auditorium level, Cinestar Cinemas in the Marina Mall and Grand Cinemas in Abu Dhabi Mall.
General Screenings: AED 20
Gala Screenings at Emirates Palace Hotel: AED 30
Students and Seniors (65 and over): AED 10 (ID required)
Package of 10 vouchers: AED 150 (Vouchers are good for all screenings, except opening and closing night galas, which are by invitation only)
Festival Pass: AED 200 (Good for all screenings, except opening and closing night galas, which are by invitation only)
From October 9 to 11 Abu Dhabi Film Commission presents The Circle Conference 2009, a development initiative aimed at creating new filmmaking opportunities in the Middle East. The Circle Conference brings together top producers, financiers, executives and filmmakers from around the world. The international entertainment community comes to Abu Dhabi to share their knowledge through events such as Panel Discussions, Master Classes, Collaboration Lunches and the Shasha Grant Pitch Competition.
The Circle Conference 2009 is presented in partnership with Imagenation Abu Dhabi.
The Middle East International Film Festival (MEIFF) was established in 2007 by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH), which presents MEIFF each October in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. MEIFF seeks to affirm the key place Abu Dhabi holds as an emerging cultural center and to foster the growth of its local film community. It celebrates cinema in all its forms by creating a vibrant forum for storytellers from the Middle East and around the world.

The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) is the institution in charge of conserving and promoting the heritage and culture of Abu Dhabi. Established in October 2005 as an authority of the Government of Abu Dhabi, it is administered by a board of directors chaired by H. E. Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan.

The full program for the Middle East International Film Festival will be announced shortly.

For more information please visit the festival website or contact


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