Irrfan Khan, Christina Voros and Catherine Dussart to preside over feature competition juries; seven world premieres of Arab films in feature competitions.

Abu Dhabi Film Festival (Oct 23-Nov 1) has released the names of its jury members, who will select the award winners of this year’s ADFF competitions.

This year’s Narrative Features jury led by Mumbai-based actor Irrfan Khan (The Lunchbox, Life of Pi) will be rounded out by Algerian novelist and academic Waciny Laredj, award-winning English writer-director Steven Shainberg, Australian film director Cate Shortland and Palestinian actor Ali Suliman.

The panel evaluating the New Horizons section led by Paris-based film producer Catherine Dussart (The Missing Picture) includes Syrian actor Bassel Al Khayat, Moroccan filmmaker Leila Kilani, Geneva-based Indian filmmaker Anup Singh and film critic Charles Tesson, artistic director of Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival.

Heading the Documentary Features jury is Brooklyn-based director and cinematographer Christina Voros. The other jury members in this category are Moroccan filmmaker Daoud Aoulad Syad, documentary filmmaker Elyes Baccar from Tunisia, US-Egyptian filmmaker and cinematographer Sherief Elkatsha and video artist and documentary filmmaker Amar Kanwar, from India.

The Emirates Film Competition (EFC) jury, scouting for the best talents among UAE and GCC filmmakers, will be headed by Moroccan screenwriter and director Farida Benlyazid.

The judging body further includes Saudi actor Ibrahim Al Hassawi, Qatari cultural advisor, Fatima Al Remaihi, acting CEO of the Doha Film Institute and director of the Ajyal Youth Film Festival, Abdullah Saleh, playwright, stage actor based in the UAE and Kurdish-Norwegian filmmaker Hisham Zaman.

ADFF 2014’s international Short Films Competition will be judged by a panel headed by Bahraini director and producer Bassam Al Thawadi. The jury will also figure director Gustavo Taretto from Argentina, programmer and director Maike Mia Höhne from the Berlin International Film Festival, director Hala Lotfy from Egypt and filmmaker Alexandre Charlet from France.

Egyptian award-winning director Marwan Hamed (president), Faisal Al Shamari, director of the UAE Ministry of the Interior Child Protection Centre, UAE media expert Heyam Al Juma, popular actress Nelly Kareem from Egypt and Italian audio-visual expert and lecturer Alessandra Priante are named as the ADFF 2014 Child Protection Awards jury.

The Network for Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) jury consists of Vietnamese director Dang Nhat Minh (president), US film journalist E. Nina Rothe and Dale Hudson, professor of Film and New Media at New York University of Abu Dhabi.

The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) jury for ADFF 2014 will include eminent journalists Kirill Razlogov from Russia (president), Subrahmanyan Viswanath from India, Rich Cline from Great Britain, Kais Kasim from Iraq and Tarek Elshenawi from Egypt.

Best of Arab Cinema

Seven world premieres of Arab films will feature as part of ADFF’s showcase of top Arab and international cinema.

Arab films will be presented alongside international titles in Narrative, New Horizons, Documentary and Short Film competition categories.

The festival will also host a special programme called The Arab Diaspora and the Emirates Film Competition (EFC), which will exclusively showcase productions by Khaleeji filmmakers.

The Narrative Competition will include five Arabic films. El Ott, a SANAD supported co-production between Egypt and the UAE, will make its world premiere during the festival. Directed by Ibrahim Elbatout, it is centres on an Egyptian gangster set in the organ traffic milieu.

Other SANAD supported films featured in the Narrative strand include Fevers by Hicham Ayouch (Morocco, France, UAE, Qatar) and The Valley, by Lebanese director Ghassan Salhab. The Valley is a co-production between Lebanon, France, Germany, Qatar and the UAE and recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Additionally in this category, Mauritanian Director, Abderrahmane Sissako, will present his latest film Timbuktu, which was co-produced with France and Qatar. The fifth Arab film to be featured in the competition is the Iraqi-German co-production Memories On Stone by Shawkat Amin-Korki.

The New Horizons Competition, with a total of four Arabic productions, will feature the world premiere of From A to B by Emirati Director Ali Mostafa’s, which will open this year’s ADFF.

This section will also host the world premiere of Iraqi production Shepherd’s Silence by Raad Mushatat.

SANAD supported title Theeb by Jordanian Director Naji Abu Nowar is also among the selected films. It recently premiered at the Venice Film Festival and won the Horizons Award for Best Director.

Also being screened in this section is The Man From Oran by French-Algerian director Lyès Salem as international premiere.

In the Documentary Competition, seven out of 17 titles are Arab produced films.

This section will feature four world premieres: Um Ghayeb by Nadine Slaib (Egypt, UAE), Queens Of Syria by Yasmin Fedda (Lebanon, Jordan, UK, UAE), Pirates Of Salè by Merieme Addou and Rosa Rogers (Morocco, United Kingdom, France, UAE), and Emirati production Sounds Of The Sea by Nujoom Al Ghanem. All four films have received support by SANAD.

Also participating in the Documentary Competition is the winner of this year’s Sundance Festival, the Syrian-German co-production Return to Homs by director Talal Derki.

The line-up includes Iraqi Odyssey, the latest film by Swiss-Iraqi director Samir, as well as The Wanted 18 by Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan, showcased at Toronto and receiving its international premiere in Abu Dhabi.

This year’s ADFF will host an entire programme dedicated to Arab directors who migrated from their homelands and speak of their heritage and culture through film.

Within this framework titled The Arab Diaspora, programmed by Intishal Al Timimi, the Festival unites nine feature films and three shorts, among them Swedish-Lebanese director Josef Fares’ Jalla! Jalla! (2000), Inch’allah Dimanche by Algerian-French director Yamina Benguigui (2001), The Polish Bride by Algerian-Dutch director Karim Traidia (1998) and Salut Cousin! by Algerian-French director Merzak Allouache (1996).

The special programme will also feature Marock (2005) by Moroccan-French director Laila Marrakchi, Seeds Of Doubt (2005) by Egyptian-German director Samir Nasr, Heremakono (2002) by Mauritanian Abderrahmane Sissako, A New Day In Old Sana’a (2005) by Yemeni-British director Bader Ben Hirsi and Dèlice Paloma (2007) by Algerian-French director Nadir Moknèche.

The Showcase section includes the world premiere of Emirati documentary feature As One: The Autism Project, which focuses on a theatrical programme for children on the autism spectrum.

Another seven Arab films will be featured in the Short Film Competition, three of them as world premieres, one as international premiere.

Additionally, the Emirates Film Competition will feature 52 films from the Gulf region this year. The programme includes 45 world premieres.

Films compete for Black Pearl Awards in the Narrative, Documentary and New Horizons sections of ADFF’s programme.