02/10/2014

El Ott, Mother of the Unborn to premiere in Abu Dhabi

Ibrahim El Batout's fifth feature and Nadine Salib's first long documentary in competition

Events and Festivals

El Ott, Mother of the Unborn to premiere in Abu Dhabi

The programme for the next Abu Dhabi Film Festival is out, with a flurry of new narrative and documentary features to look forward to from the South Mediterranean region. The festival this year runs from October 23 to November 1.

Egyptian director Ibrahim el Batout's El Ott will make its world premiere in the festival's Narrative Competition.In Batout's fifth feature since he turned to cinema from war reporting, small-time gangster El Ott, played by Egyptian actor Amr Waked (Winter of Discontent, Lucy), divorces his wife after his daughter is mysteriously abducted. He soon finds himself caught up in a race against time, after he discovers that a mobster recently kidnapped street children in the neighbourhood in order to sell their organs.The film, which wrapped shooting in Egypt during the military-imposed curfew last autumn, is produced by Zad (Winter of Discontent) and co-produced by Paris-based Knight Works with support from Final Cut and SANAD.

The film will compete against Moroccan director Hicham Ayouch's Fevers, Lebanese director Ghassan Salhab's The Valley and Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako's Timbuktu (awarded in Cannes earlier this year).

From A to B, directed by Emirati filmmaker Ali F Mostafa, is to open the film festival in the New Horizons section. The comedy follows three childhood friends who have grown apart, as they take a road trip from Abu Dhabi to Beirut in memory of a lost friend. The film was written by Egyptian producer and scriptwriter Mohamed Hefzy, and produced by Paul Bboudjian, Hefzy and Mostafa, with the support of twofour54 and Image Nation. Mostafa's first feature City of Life, an ensemble film set in Dubai, was a box office hit when it was released in Emirati cinemas in 2010.

From A to B will notably compete against Jordanian director Naji Abi Nowar's feature debut Theeb. The film follows a young Bedouin boy in the Arabian Desert in 1916, and won Best Director in the Orizzonti section at Venice this year.

mother-of-the-unborn

Also from Egypt, Nadine Salib's first long documentary Mother of the Unborn is to make its world premiere in the Documentary Competition. Produced by Hassala in co-production with Al Batrik, with support from the IDFA Bertha Fund and AFAC among others, Mother of the Unborn follows an infertile woman trying to conceive in Upper Egypt.

Syrian filmmaker Talal Derki's Return to Homs (awarded the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2014) dives into the world of the Syrian resistance. Palestinian artist and filmmaker Amer Shomali and Canadian filmmaker Paul Cowan's The Wanted 18 blends interviews with 3D animation in a true story from the first Palestinian Intifada, about a group of cows taken into hiding after they were declared a threat to Israel's national security. And from Morocco, Miriem Addou and Rosa Rogers' Pirates of Sale follows teenage acrobats on the edge of one of the country's poorest slums.Yasmine Fedda's Queens of Syria, which portrays a group of Syrian refugee women in Jordan performing The Trojan Women, a play written by Euripides in 415 BC, will also premiere in the same section.

In the same competition are also Samir's Iraqi Odyssey, a documentary about the filmmaker's family in exile, and Joshua Oppenheimer's The Look of Silence, a companion piece to his acclaimed, if deeply disturbing Oscar nominee Act of Killing.

In the Short Film Competition, there will be Lotfi Achour's Father from Tunisia and Ahmed Abdelnaser's I Exist from Egypt.

Films from the region awarded at last year's edition of the festival include Ayten Amin's Villa 69, Sherief el Katsha's first feature-length documentary Cairo Drive and Omar Robert Hamilton's crowd-funded short Though I Know the River is Dry.

 

Photos: Ibrahim el Batout's El Ott (courtesy of Zad), Mother of the Unborn

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