Inside ADFF 2010
With 70 feature-length films and 100 shorts, the 4th edition of ADFF presented films from 43 countries, boasting 33 world premieres. Chosen from more than 2,000 submissions, half of the program came from the Middle East, 19 films were from first- or second-time feature-film directors, and 33 were made by women. More than 500 volunteers worked around the clock toward another successful edition of the Festival. Hosting 371 industry professionals and 577 accredited press from more than 40 countries, and more than 30,000 festival attendees, ADFF enjoyed a 31% increase in ticket sales over 2009. Five thousand visitors attended various activities at the Festival Tent, located in the gorgeous Emirates Palace, ADFF’s primary gala venue.
SANAD, the Festival’s development and post-production fund for filmmakers from the Arab world, announced its first round of grantees in the run-up to the Festival. A total of $500,000 in grants was awarded to 27 feature-length projects out of 150 submissions from 12 Arabic-speaking countries. Five of the seventy features presented at ADFF received support from the fund.
The 4th edition opened with Secretariat by Randall Wallace and closed with Hong Kong New Wave director Tsui Hark’s Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame. Special programs were dedicated to experimentation in Arab cinema, restored classics and environmental issues. The inclusion of the Emirates Film Competition as a section in the Festival strengthened the Festival’s commitment to supporting cinema from the UAE and the Gulf region.
The Festival’s Best Narrative Film award went to the Russian film Silent Souls by Aleksei Fedorchenko, while Here Comes the Rain by Lebanese director Bahij Hojeij was the Best Narrative Film from the Arab World. The Best Documentary award was shared between Nostalgia for the Light by the great Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzmán and Pink Saris by Kim Longinotto from the United Kingdom. In the New Horizons Competition, which presents first or second feature films, the Best Film award went to Vahid Vakilifar’s Gesher from Iran, while the SANAD-funded first feature from Lebanon, Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia’s Ok, Enough, Goodbye was awarded Best Narrative Film by a New Director from the Arab World.
As in previous years, the Red Carpet was a star-studded affair with celebrities in attendance including Khaled Abol Naga, Yehia El Fakharany, Lebleba and Yousra, as well as Adrien Brody, Julianne Moore, Clive Owen and Uma Thurman, all of whom engaged in illuminating encounters with the audience. Other notable guests included Freida Pinto, Gérard Depardieu, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Irrfan Khan, Abbas Kiarostami, Basma, Tarak Ben Ammar, Faouzi Bensaïdi, Nouri Bouzid, Mahmoud Hemeda, Rula Jebreal, Julia Kassar, Bassam Kousa, Carmen Lebbos, Doug Liman, Yasmine Al Massri, Shirin Neshat, Om Puri, Julian Schnabel and Elia Suleiman. Also in attendance was Iraqi director Mohamed Al Daradji (Son of Babylon), who was named Variety’s Middle East Filmmaker of the Year.
Festival selections were nominated for several Academy Awards, including Lucy Walker’s documentary Waste Land; Incendies by Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve; and In a Better World by Danish director Susanne Bier which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.