Headinginto its second year, the Dubai International Film Festival (December 11-17)has announced an expanded line-up of 98 Middle East and international films,kicking off with Hany Abu-Assad'ssuicide bomber drama Paradise Now,and culminating with the closing night gala of Christian Carrion's Merry Christmas.
Along theway, Dubai will host six world premieres,including Albert Brooks' Looking For Comedy In The Muslim World and the Irish-backeddocumentary Kosovo; The Hand OfFriendship, alongside the first feature-length film to be made in Baghdad since the fall ofSaddam Hussein, Underexposure.
Morgan Freeman will again visit the festivalalongside an international cast of guests which includes the chairman ofViacom, Sumner Redstone,legendary Indian producer Yash Chopra; Egyptiansuperstar Adel Imam, Costa-Gavras, Michael Caton Jones, and actors Albert Brooks, Dylan McDermott and HughDancy. Sir Bob Geldof willalso attend.
Internationalfilms showcasing in Dubai this year include the international premiere of Edison, Oscar contenders Walk The Line and Broken Flowers, L'Enfant,The Constant Gardener and Michael Haneke's Hidden; these will play out alongside anextended selection of Middle Eastern and Arab cinema, including a sectionprogrammed by festival director Neil Stephenson called Operation CulturalBridge, which, alongside Brooks' feature and Kosovo, features a screening of WestBank Story, a musical comedy about an Israeli boy and a Palestinian girl.
Ofparticular note is the showcase Arabian Nights section, comprising 14 featuresfrom Paradise Now to Attente, theFrench film October 17, 1961,Algeria's Bab El Web, La Ultima Luna, a Chilean production inHebrew and Arabic, Lebanon's Bosta and Once UponThe Time in The Oeud, by France's Djamel Bensalah.
Thefestival, 30 percent larger than last year's debut edition, features 12sections, with several new strands this yearincluding Emerging Emiratis, programming five newfeatures from the Gulf, and Dubai Discoveries, with six films from thefestival's home city.