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5 Must-See Arabic Films at the 2017 Dubai International Film Festival

“The Journey” (2017)

Arguably one of the most significant dates in the regional film calendar, the 2017 Dubai Film Festival returns for its 14th edition on December 6-13, bringing with it eight days of compelling storytelling via thought-provoking short and feature films. Though DIFF serves up an ambitious fare of cinema from all points of the globe, it’s the number of movies directed by Arab filmmakers screened during the week that sets DIFF apart from other International film festivals. Read on for the ones we’re most looking forward to.

The Journey
Directed by Mohamed Al Daradji

This feature film by Iraqi filmmaker Mohamed Al Daradji tells the story of a chance encounter between two strangers in Baghdad’s central station. The story centers around a young beautiful girl named Sara who bumps into a flirtatious salesman, Salam at the train station. After learning that Sara has a suicide bomb strapped to her stomach, and is unwillingly taken hostage, Salam tries to understand her motives while also figuring out how he is going to save himself and everyone else at the station.

2017 Dubai International Film Festival

“Cactus Flower” (2017)

Cactus Flower
Directed by Hala Elkoussy

This film follows the journey and personal struggles of three Egyptians. Aida, a struggling actress who came to Cairo from the Delta, is kicked out on the street on the same night as her neighbour, Samiha, a fading beauty. With no money and nowhere to go, the two women, aided by a street-savvy youth named Yassin form an unlikely friendship.

2017 Dubai International Film Festival

“Heaven Without People” (2017)

Heaven Without People
Directed by Lucien Bourjeily

Lebanese director Lucien Bourjeily introduces a journey of unspoken hurt and the rift it can cause with the world premiere of Heaven without People. The movie follows the protaganist, Josephine, the matriarch of a sprawling family, who is delighted to gather everyone together for Easter lunch for the first time in two years. The festive meal survives tensions bubbling just under the surface, but an unexpected event will soon change their joyful mood and lives forever.

Catch The Wind
Directed by Gaël Morel

Catch The Wind follows the story of a 45-year-old textile factory worked, Edith, whose life is flipped upside down due to downsizing within her company. Estranged from her only son and with no other personal ties, Edith, who is played by French actress Sandrine Bonnaire, chooses to pack up and move to Morocco, where her factory relocated, to start a new life.

2017 Dubai International Film Festival

“Stories of Passers Through” (2017)

Stories of Passers Through
Directed by Koutaiba Al-Janabi

Stories of Passers Through is a personal journey that explores the themes of alienation, longing, fear and escape, with an experimental approach to style and narrative. Shot slowly over the span of 30-years, the autobiographical movie is an introspective look at Al Janabi’s own personal experiences leaving his home country of Iraq, and the toll it took on his own understanding of identity and belonging.

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