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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Films I want to catch at the Dubai International Film Festival

The list of films for the Dubai International Film Festival had came out yesterday on their site. And I was absolutely blown away by their line-up.

Now, aside from presenting my own short film, CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY, during its two screenings (I'm also facing some stiff competition under the Muhr AsiaAfrica Short category, and Naomi Kawase's chairing the jury committee for this, wow), I think I'll have plenty of time to catch as many films as possible during my eight days in Dubai.

So I will now make a quick list for the films I intend to watch for now.

AUSTRALIA = Baz Luhrmann's romantic epic starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. Heard good things, know it's an Oscar contender, definitely interested.

Australia trailer

BALLAST = American indie film that I've noticed after it garnered a lot of attention during Sundance earlier this year. Films like that tend to stay in my radar. I thought the trailer's pretty poetic too.

Ballast trailer

BLINDNESS = It's showing in Japan now. I missed it when it was at the Tokyo Film Festival. I'm a little reluctant to watch it after hearing so many horrid things about the film, even though Mereilles is one director I totally love (embarrassing but true, I rewatched THE CONSTANT GARDENER during flight back from Rome and despite having seen it many times, I teared up during the ending) But if I get to catch it for free, no prob.

CHE = 4+ hour film by Steven Soderbergh and starring Benicio Del Toro (who won Best Actor at Cannes for this film) as Che Guevara. Sounded like a monumental cinematic achievement that might escape mainstream success and Oscar adulation. In Cannes, it was separated to two films, because they sort of differ in style, but I definitely want to watch the entire film at once. 4+ hours ain't that big a deal, it'll be like a little half of the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy marathon I sat through to watch THE RETURN OF THE KING few years ago.

Che trailer

THE CHASER = Korean film, heard a lot about it from Ming Jin. Am intrigued. You don't hear much about good Korean movies these few years.

The Chaser trailer

DIBAWAH POHON (UNDER THE TREE) = Indonesian film. Met the director Garin (godfather of Indonesian cinema) briefly at the Tokyo Film Fest. Saw it traveling a lot in film festivals, thus very curious too.

ENTRE LES MURS (THE CLASS) = Film that won the Palme D'or at Cannes this year. Documentary-style film about a teacher in a classroom of foreign-born students. Based on the journal of a school teacher who actually played the school teacher in the film. Whoa, totally meta.

THE CLASS trailer

GENOVA = Michael Winterbottom's latest film (man, he's so insanely prolific!) about a man (Colin Firth) dealing with the loss of his wife with his two young daughters. Heavy stuff. But using Arcade Fire in trailer? Immediate awesome.

Genova trailer

GOMORRA = Critically acclaimed Italian mafia film. Italy's entry for the Oscars, won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes.

English trailer of Gomorra

HUNGER = I heard interesting things about this film, and Sebastian had mentioned its ballsyness when he caught the film at Pusan. Sounds like an experience.

trailer of HUNGER

IL DIVO = Nothing to do with the pop operatic group. This seems like a stylish-looking and possibly funny documentary (non-fiction film?) of former Italian PM, Giulio Andreotti. Also heard many great things about it.

Il Divo trailer

JE VEUX VOIR (I WANT TO SEE) = Either I'll catch this film at the ongoing FILMEX, or I'll catch it at Dubai. I'll see what happens. Some sort of a semi-documentary set in Lebanon starring Catherine Deneuve.

Je veux Voir trailer

LENG KUY XIAN JING (WE WENT TO WONDERLAND) = Chinese documentary. I was scrolling through the page for this list, then was attracted by its synopsis 'An elderly Chinese couple make their first visit to Europe, under the watchful lens of their daughter, director Xiaolu Guo'.

SLUMDOG MILLIONARE = Another Oscar contender. Danny Boyle's latest film. Another filmmaker I admire verily. I think Sunshine's criminally underappreciated, even though like everyone, I thought the 3rd act's rubbish. But this one seems REALLY good.


THE HURT LOCKER = Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq War film is about a bomb disposal team. I heard many good things about it.

Italian trailer of THE HURT LOCKER

THE WRESTLER = Golden Lion award winner at the Venice Film Festival. Darren Aronofsky is my hero. Even though I have mixed feelings about THE FOUNTAIN (future sequences were awesome, medieval sequences were B-movie-ish, present-day sequences were TV movie-ish), REQUIEM FOR A DREAM remained one of my biggest influences during my student filmmaking days in Perth (the hip-hop montage remains something you see in most of my films, most recently CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY). Since I used to watch wrestling as a child, and later during the first years of this century, of course I gonna check this out.


UC MAYMUN (THREE MONKEYS) = I've heard about its unique visuals when the film premiered at the Cannes Film Fest. Tan Chui Mui told me then that it was one of her
favourite films in the festival. Since then, I've been paying attention to this film.


W. = Oliver Stone's film starring Josh Brolin as George W Bush. I think Oliver Stone might be around for Q & A sessions. More reason to watch this!!!

W.'s trailer

TOKYO SONATA = Kiyoshi Kurosawa's critically-acclaimed film about a Japanese family will be showing over here in Tokyo with subtitles, but I'll rather catch it in Dubai.

Tokyo Sonata

Of course, this isn't my full list. I'm just listing films I've heard of. That's why they're mostly the big-time Hollywood and European films. But it's a good one to refer to when I go there 14 days from now. Ideally, I would like to discover some gems that I've never heard of, especially those from the Middle eastern regions. And of course, I also want to check out the other short films that are in competition with CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY. But I also want to check the sights in Dubai, meet and hang out with other filmmakers too! Aaargh!