Abu Dhabi's second Middle East International Film Festival (Oct 10-19) presented its line-up today, opening with The Brothers Bloom by Rian Johnson and closing with Body Of Lies by Ridley Scott.
The other special presentations for the festival include Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Spike Lee's Miracle At St. Anna, Neil Burger's The Lucky Ones, Stephan Elliott's Easy Virtue and Anthony Leondis' Igor.
MEIFF will be working with Paris-based Cinema Verite for a special tribute to Jane Fonda. Susan Sarandon and Carole Bouquet will join Fonda for the event.
The festival will also pay tribute to Tunisian director Nacer Khemir to recognise his 60th birthday. The tribute will screen his film Touaq al Hammama al Mafqoud.
This year's MEIFF will also host the MOST initative, in conjunction with The Saban Center for Middle Eastern Policy at The Brookings Institute in Washington. MOST, Muslims on Screen and Television, will become a cultural resource centre for information on Islam for the US entertainment industry.
Related plans include a new Arab Film Industry Research Circle, to examine the current situation (including co-production potential) of Arab cinema in the Levant, Egypt, The Gulf and North Africa. MEIFF will also host a symposium about women in the entertainment industry.
MEIFF was started in 2007 by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage. The announcement today was made by Vice Chairman of MEIFF and Director General of ADACH, Mohamed Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Project Coordinator Eissa Al Mazrouei, Executive Director Nashwa Al Ruwaini and Abdalla Bastaki, Director of the Emirates Film Competition.
Other programme highlights include a section of environmental films and documentaries highlighting the 60th anniversary of the division of Palestine.
The festival's Black Pearl Awards now boast prize money exceeding $1 million in cash in the categories of fiction, documentary, animation, shorts, student films and animation.
'The inaugural Middle East International Film Festival was a huge challenge as to start a new festival that strives to have a predominant role in the international festival world is not easy with over 3,000 other festivals taking place every year around the world. We believe that universality does not happen except through regionalism the Festival serves Arab cinema, especially in the Emirates and the Gulf, and we are honored to have great Arabic titles both in and out of competition as well as a massive selection of international films. We aspire to serve the art of film from all over the world,' said Nashwa Al Ruwaini.
Jon Fitzgerald, MEIFF's director of programming, added: 'It was a real challenge trying to achieve a true balance between East and West in our programming due to the sheer excellence in submissions from both this part of the world and beyond. Our viewing committee and programmers have viewed over a thousand films in order to get to the stage we are at currently in finalizing the final slate.'
The festival will screen films from more than 35 countries - other selections will be announced in coming weeks.