Rachid Bouchareb’s drama Hors La Loi about the Algerian revolution caused controversy at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, prompting a demonstration and armed police on the streets. Nevertheless, the Gulf state of Qatar’s 2nd Doha Tribeca Film Festival will open with that film and close with The First Grader. (National Geographic picked up the U.S. rights after it won the runner-up audience prize at Toronto.) Here’s the full list of films showing at DTFF from October 26-30:
Opening Night Film
Outside the Law (Hors la loi), directed by Rachid Bouchareb, screenplay Rachid Bouchareb, Olivier Lorelle. (France, Algeria, Tunisia, Italy, Belgium) – Feature Narrative
Three Algerian brothers who lost their family home in France’s 1945 attack on the market town, Sétif, scatter across the globe. Each embarks on a different wild adventure — one heads off to Indochina, another gets involved with the Pigalle boxing club underworld, the third leads a resistance movement — but reunite in Paris seeking to reclaim their homeland.
Cast: Jamel Debbouze, Sami Bouajila, Roschdy Zem, Chaffia Boudra, Bernard Blancan, Sabrina Seyvecou
Closing Night Film
The First Grader, directed by Justin Chadwick, screenwriter Ann Peacock. (U.K.) – Feature Narrative
The inspirational story about an elderly farmer in a Kenyan village who wants to enroll in a local school and learn to read, this charming film features an outstanding performance by Naomie Harris as a skeptical teacher as well as Oliver Litondo as the octogenarian student.
Cast: Naomie Harris, Oliver Musila Litondo
Arab Film Competition
Balls (Farsan), directed by Josef Fares, screenwriters Josef Fares, Torkel Petersson. (Sweden) – Feature Narrative
Middle Eastern earthiness meets Scandinavian sweetness in this comedy by acclaimed Lebanese-Swedish director Josef Fares, whose half-dozen films over the past decade have been international festival favorites. In his latest cinematic culture clash, Fares features his actual father as a lonely widower slowly making his way back onto the dating scene, with amusing, endearing results.
Cast: Torkel Petersson, Jan Fares, Hamadi Khemiri, Juan Rodriguez, Anita Wall, Nina Zanjani, Jessica Forsberg
Grandma, A Thousand Times (Teta, Alf Marra), directed by Mahmoud Kaabour. (United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Lebanon) – Feature Documentary
This personal documentary puts a feisty Beiruti grandmother at the center of brave film exercises designed to commemorate her many worlds. With great intimacy, the film documents her larger-than-life character as she struggles to cope with the silence of her once-buzzing house and imagines what awaits her beyond death.
Featuring: Teta Fatima Kaabour
Hawi, directed and written by Ibrahim El Batout. (Egypt, Qatar) – Feature Narrative
A prisoner is released on a mission to retrieve a set of documents. A man roams the city streets towing his sickly horse behind him. A group of songwriters gathers to compose. In this portrait of modern Alexandria, themes of human loss and displacement take center stage in place of a clearly defined story arc.
Cast: Hanan Youssef, Sherif El Dessouki, Mohamed El Sayed, Fady Iskandar, Rina Aref, Massar Egbary Band
Itto Titrit, directed by Mohamed Abbazi, screenwriter Mohamed Abbazi. (Morocco) – Feature Narrative
A little girl with the name Itto Titrit (Morning Star) is kept out of school against her wishes. She yearns to be close to her childhood love during the pre-independence days in Morocco, and so she decides to outsmart the social taboos established by dominant males. To get her share of freedom like the rest of the country, she does not know what it will cost to challenge the well-established male privileges.
Cast: Nisrine Fouad, Amine Jebbor, Sidi Moh Chakri, Mustapha Kadiri, Hadda Oubou
Man Without a Cellphone (Bidoun Mobile), directed by Sameh Zoabi, screenwriters Sameh Zoabi & Fred Rice. (Palestine, France, Belgium, Qatar) – Feature Narrative
In this endearing comedy about Palestinian youth, director Sameh Zoabi introduces viewers to the twentysomething slackers who find themselves caught between angry parents and suspicious Israelis, when all they really want to do is have fun, hang out and pick up girls. Politics aren’t completely out of the picture, but the engaging and lively personalities shine foremost in this winning, good-natured tale.
Cast: Razi Shawahdeh, Bassem Loulou, Louai Nofi, Naela Zarqawy, Ayman Nahas, Amer Hlehel
The Mosque (A Jamaa), directed and written by Daoud Aoulad. (Morocco, France) – Feature Narrative
Daoud Aoulad-Syad’s previous film, Waiting for Pasolini has just wrapped in a small Moroccan town and although the neighbors have destroyed all the sets, the film’s mosque remains and has become a real place of worship for the town. This is a complete disaster for Moha a townsman and film-extra, who used to grow vegetables to feed his family on the land. Aoulad-Syad adds another thoughtful and entertaining film to his impressive repertoire.
Cast: Abdelhadi Touhrach, Bouchra Hraich, Mustapha Tahtah, Naceur Oujri, Salem Dabella
The Mountain (La Montagne), directed and written by Ghassan Salhab. (Lebanon) – Feature Narrative
Awash with haunting black-and-white images, The Mountain is a journey into the mind of a man as he spends a month in isolation at a desolate hotel. A near silent picture, this portrayal of harsh reality mixed with vivid dreamscapes will leave viewers filled with wonder about the crossroads of fact and fantasy.
Cast: Fadi Abi Samra
My Name is Ahlam (ESMI AHLAM), directed by Rima Essa, screenwriters Rima Essa & Era Lapid. (Palestine) – Feature Documentary
Aisha, a Palestinian woman living in the occupied West Bank, is fighting for her daughter’s right to receive adequate treatment for her leukemia. The director brings to the screen a unique testimonial that escapes self-pity and victimization while focusing on Aisha’s process of empowerment. Suddenly she is no longer afraid to stand up to her occupiers and to her conservative society.
Once Upon Our Time (Un Conte de Faits), directed by Hichem Ben Ammar, screenwriter Hichem Ben Ammar. (Tunisia) – Feature Documentary
Unfolding like a storybook tale, this documentary traces two years in the life of 15-year-old Tunisian violin prodigy Anas Romdhani, who originally had no money with which to take lessons. Covering his discovery and mentoring by renowned violinists, he enrolls at a prestigious London music academy, becomes an international sensation and tours the world.
The Quarter of Scarecrows (Garaqi Daholakan), directed by Hassan Ali Mahmood, screenwriter Sherzad Hassan. (Iraq) – Feature Narrative
An allegory about tyranny, this drama was inspired by the eight-year war between Iraq and Iran in which millions of innocent civilians died. Sad yet powerful, it depicts an infestation of crows on a rich landowner’s property and how a group of the village’s children are victimized and used as human scarecrows.
Cast: Valid Marouf Jaro, Abdal Shawkat, Solav M. Khared, Taha Akhajan
Africa United, directed by Debs Gardner Paterson, screenwriter Rhidian Brook. (U.K.) – Feature Narrative
Dudu, from a Rwandan slum, is a serious football fan. He and his sports-mad buddies decide to walk 5000 kilometers to South Africa to experience the World Cup. The kids cross borders, gather new friends, and are forced to overcome obstacles on their incredible journey.
Cast: Roger Nsengiyumva, Sherrie Silver, Eriya Ndayambaje, Yves Dusenge, Sanyu Joanita Kintu
Benda Bilili!, directed by Renaud Barret, Florent de la Tullaye. (Democratic Republic of the Congo, France) – Feature Documentary
Popping with potent rhythms and set against a bleak backdrop of near hopeless despair, this documentary about disabled Congolese musicians Staff Benda Bilili demonstrates the power of art to triumph over adversity. Not only will the film make your body move, it’ll stir you emotionally as well.
Bhutto, directed by Duane Baughman, Johnny O’Hara. (USA, U.K.) – Feature Documentary
Political biopics too often fall into either hagiography or demonization, extremes mostly avoided by this documentary about the late Benazir Bhutto, the first woman elected to rule a Muslim nation. Her life’s journey is viewed in a more reasoned tone here, balanced considerably through sharp editing, striking visuals and interviews with both family and foes.
Featuring: Sanam Bhutto, Asif Zardari, Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, Bakthawar Bhutto Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Mark Siegel
Boy, directed and written by Taika Waititi. (New Zealand) – Feature Narrative
A New Zealand coming-of-age story about a supremely likeable kid who reunites with his long-lost hoodlum dad, Boy is packed with pop-culture touchstones, nutso fantasy sequences, and a final dance number that rivals Slumdog Millionaire for pure outrageousness. With the videos of Michael Jackson as frequent inspiration and flashes of unexpected animation, this endearing tale of innocence that keeps its silliness in balance with its serious side has already become New Zealand’s biggest-ever home-grown hit.
Cast: James Rolleston, Te aho eketone-whitu, Taika Waititi
Budrus, directed and written by Julia Bacha. (USA, Palestine) – Feature Documentary
In one of the most conflicted parts of the world, a Palestinian family man unites rival parties Fatah and Hamas, Western activists, and even groups of progressive Israelis in a nonviolent movement to save his village from being destroyed. Award-winning documentarian Julia Bacha captures with rawness and galvanizing intensity the power of ordinary people to peaceably fight for extraordinary changes.
Featuring: Ayed Morrar, Iltezam Morrar, Kobi Snitz, Yasmine Levy, Ahmed Awwad, Doron Spielman
Certified Copy (Copie Conforme), directed by Abbas Kiarostami, screenwriter by Abbas Kiarostami. (France, Italy) – Feature Narrative
Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami makes a daring move from his usual fare with this comic-drama set in Italy’s scenic Tuscany region. Starring French actress Juliette Binoche and British opera singer William Shimell, the pair meet and take a daytrip that evolves into a role-playing game that questions the actual relationship of these seeming strangers.
Cast: Juliette Binoche, William Shimell, Jean-Claude Carriere, Agathe Natanson
The Conspirator, directed by Robert Redford, screenwriter James Solomon. (USA) – Feature Narrative
The latest directorial effort from Robert Redford is a fascinating historical drama that tells the little-known story of the trial for the seven men and one woman accused of assassinating Abraham Lincoln. Featuring standout performances from James McAvoy and Robin Wright, Redford brings the past vividly back to life in this haunting new film.
Here Comes the Rain (Chatti Ya Dini), directed and written by Bahij Hojeij. (Lebanon) – Feature Narrative
In this study of a kidnapped man returning to his loved ones after decades in detention, filmmaker Bahij Hojeij explores how a missing husband and parent affects his family’s social dynamic, while the city he once also called home – in this case the ever-evolving Lebanese capital of Beirut – changes too in his absence.
Cast: Hassan Mrad, Julia Kassar, Carmen Lebbos, Bernadette Hodeib, Elie Mitri, Diamand Bou Aboud
Incendies, directed and written by Denis Villeneuve. (Canada, France) – Feature Narrative
Director Denis Villeneuve continues his studies of females facing extreme circumstances in this vivid adaptation of a Wajdi Mouawad play set in the Middle East. Two different voyages – a woman’s search for her long-lost son, and a mothers’ final request that her children locate other family members – interweave in this tragic drama.
Cast: Lubna Azabal, Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin, Maxim Gaudette, Remy Girard
Just Like Us, directed by Ahmed Ahmed. (USA) – Feature Documentary
Egyptian-American comic and first-time director Ahmed Ahmed takes us on a hilarious tour from Los Angeles to Cairo, Dubai, Beirut, Riyadh and back to New York with a gaggle of other stand-up talent, including Maz Jobrani, Tom Papa, Ted Alexandro, Tommy Davidson, Omid (The Infidel) Djalili. Along the way, taboos of culture and geopolitics are exploded, and a younger generation of both comedy talents and audiences is born.
Featuring: Ahmed Ahmed, Erik Griffin, Ted Alexandro, Maz Jobrani, Angelo Tsarouchas, Omid Djalili
The Kid, directed by Nick Moran, screenwriters Kevin Lewis & Nick Moran. (U.K.) – Feature Narrative
This inspirational drama based on the best-selling autobiography by crime writer Kevin Lewis depicts a young man’s escape from a brutal upbringing on a London council estate to his emergence as a bestselling author. Starring Rupert Friend and Natascha McElhone, the film was directed by Nick Moran, who previously tackled biographical fare with “Telstar: The Joe Meek Story.”
Cast: Rupert Friend, Augustus Prew, William Finn Miller, Natasha McElhone, Con O’Neill, Ioan Gruffudd
Let Me In, directed and written by Matt Reeves. (U.K., USA) – Feature Narrative
2008’s famed Swedish vampire film “Let the Right One In” takes on a new but equally bone-chilling form in Matt Reeves’ (Cloverfield) “Let Me In.” With impeccable performances by newcomers Kodie Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz, a disquieting mis-en-scene comparative to the original, and great scares, this vampire tale is one not to be missed.
Cast: Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas, Cara Buono, Chris Browning
The Light Thief (Svet-ake), directed by Aktan Arym Kubat, screenwriters Aktan Arym Kubat & Talip Ibraimov. (France, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Netherlands) – Feature Narrative
A helpful electrician known as “Svet-ake” or “Mr. Light” brings illumination of all sorts to the small village caught in the midst of a revolution against a totalitarian State. With his dreams of having a son and providing cheap wind power, the electrician makes strong connections in his attempt to rewire the economic power structure of his community.
Cast: Aktan Arym Kubat, Taalaikan Abazova, Askat Sulaimanov, Asan Amanov, Stanbek Toichubaev
Little Sister (Mei Mei), directed and written by Richard Bowen. (China, USA) – Feature Narrative
An Asian version of the Cinderella story, this family-oriented film was shot in China’s Yunnan Province and features former Disney child star Brenda Song as the narrator-storyteller with a mostly Chinese cast. Beautifully shot with spectacular sets and Zen-like acting, the movie offers children a wonderful alternative to the overly-familiar European storyline.
Cast: Xiao Min, Wang Caiping, Chi Peng, Zhang Jie, Qiu Lin, Brenda Song
Made in Dagenham, directed by Nigel Cole, screenwriter William Ivory. (U.K.) – Feature Narrative
Mixing documentary footage with drama, this populist workers saga starring Sally Hawkins and Bob Hoskins recounts a landmark 1968 strike at the U.K.’s Ford Motors factory, when nearly 200 women protested over equal pay, better working conditions and an end to sexual discrimination.
Cast: Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson, Geraldine James, Rosamund Pike
Meek’s Cutoff, directed by Kelly Reichardt, screenwriter Jonathan Raymond. (USA) – Feature Narrative
Inspired by true events, a wilderness guide in the 19th century leads three young couples and their children along the Oregon Trail to the new frontier of America’s west. The film depicts the paranoia and hysteria that results when the group gets lost, runs low on water, and kidnaps a Native American they believe may be spying on them.
Cast: Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Will Patton, Zoe Kazan, Paul Dano, Shirley Henderson
Miral, directed by Julian Schnabel, screenwriter Rula Jebreal. (France, U.K.) – Feature Narrative
From Academy Award-nominated director Julian Schnabel comes the story of four women whose lives intertwine in the starkly human search for justice, hope and reconciliation amid a world overshadowed by conflict, rage and war. The story begins in war-torn Jerusalem in 1948 when Hind Husseini opens an orphanage that quickly becomes home to 2,000 orphans. One is Miral.
Cast: Freida Pinto, Hiam Abbass, Willem Dafoe, Vanessa Redgrave, Alexander Siddig, Yasmine Al Massri
Morgen, directed by Marian Crisan, screenwriter Marian Crisan. (Romania, France, Hungary) – Feature Narrative
Nelu works as a supermarket security guard in a small village on the Romanian-Hungarian border. One day Nelu fishes a Turkish man out of the river, as the stranger struggles to reach Germany. The two men are unable to communicate with words, but Nelu provides the illegal emigrant with clothes, food, shelter and a far-fetched promise to help him accomplish his journey.
Cast: Andra Hathazi, Yilmaz Yalcin, Elvira Rimbu, Dorin C. Zachei, Molnar Levente, Razvan Vicoveanu
My Perestroika, directed by Robin Hessman. (USA, U.K.) – Feature Documentary
The myths and realities of the former USSR emerge in this documentary tracing the personal histories of five children who grew up during the Cold War and today represent average citizens in modern Russia, dealing with the familiar and easily identifiable emotions that characterize all of our daily lives.
Neds, directed and written by Peter Mullan. (U.K.) – Feature Narrative
Set in 1970s Glasgow, the film tells the story of John McGill, a shy and intelligent 16-year-old boy who, through a series of circumstances, turns into a NED – a non-educated delinquent and goes off the rails. Peter Mullan examines to what extent we can retain or not human violence when we’re just looking for some love.
Cast: Peter Mullan, Louise Goodall, Marianna Palka, Conor McCarron, Gregg Forrest
Of Gods and Men (Des hommes et des dieux), directed by Xavier Beauvois, screenwriters Etienne Comar & Xavier Beauvois. (France) – Feature Narrative
Director Xavier Beauvois uses the 1996 mystery of the Tibhirine monastery murders as a basis for this meditation on belief. Set weeks before the murders, the fictional narrative follows the soul-searching dilemma faced by monks dealing with extremists on one side and the government’s military might on the other. France’s Oscar entry for this year.
Cast: Lambert Wilson, Michael Lonsdale, Olivier Rabourdin, Philippe Laudenbach, Jacques Herlin, Loic Pichon
On the Path (Na Putu), directed and written by Jasmila Zbanic. (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria, Germany, Croatia) – Feature Narrative
Luna and Amar seem like the happiest couple in Sarajevo, despite their problems starting up a family. But their world turns upside down when Amar loses his job and finds solace in religious fanaticism, while Luna – portrayed with great emotional. verve by newcomer Zrinka Cvitesic — refuses to alter her independent, modern lifestyle
Cast: Zrinka Cvitesic, Leon Lucev, Ermin Bravo, Mirjana Karanovic, Marija Kohn, Nina Violic
Potiche, directed and written by François Ozon. (France, Belgium) – Feature Narrative
Acclaimed writer/director François Ozon delivers a hilarious screwball comedy with ”Potiche” – a charming, candy-colored farce about a trophy wife who must take over her husband’s business that features French superstars Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu along with a supporting cast including Fabrice Luchini, Karin Viard, Jérémie Renier and Judith Godrèche.
Cast: Gérard Depardieu, Catherine Deneuve, Jérémie Renier, Judith Godrèche, Karin Viard, Fabrice Luchini
The Runway, directed by Ian Power, screenwriter Ian Power. (Ireland, Luxembourg) – Feature Narrative
Bring out the hankies for this tale of an Irish lad who learns valuable lessons about family, life and maturity as he and his community try to help a lost aviator find his way. Based on a true event, the feel-good movie is perfect for anyone who ever went off-course and needed a path home.
Cast: Kerry Condon, Demian Bichir, James Cosmo
Secretariat, directed by Randall Wallace, screenwriter Mike Rich. (USA) – Feature Narrative
The thrilling, pulse-quickening world of thoroughbred horse racing comes to life in this story of 1973’s Triple Crown winner, owner Penny Chenery and trainer Lucien Laurin. Set against the historical backdrop of Vietnam War, the movie’s real intensity comes from Diane Lane’s performance as a woman who leaves her city life behind to take over her ailing father’s crumbling farm.
Cast: Diane Lane, John Malkovich
Shahada, directed by Burhan Qurbani, screenwriter Burhan Qurbani & Ole Giec. (Germany) – Feature Narrative
Set in modern Berlin, the fates of three young German-born Muslims collide as they struggle to find their place between faith and modern life in contemporary western society, caught at a crossroads where alluring liberated lifestyles conflict with deeply-rooted traditions.
Cast: Maryam Zaree, Jeremias Acheampong, Carlos Ljubek, Marija Skaricic, Sergej Moya
Tamara Drewe, directed by Stephen Frears, screenwriter Moira Buffini. (U.K.) – Feature Narrative
Based on the popular newspaper comic strip set in a quaint English village, the film recounts the romantic adventures of a young journalist who returns back home after years away to sell the house she inherited from her late mother. Gemma Arterton’s flinty, flirty, and slightly filthy performance as a sexual interloper among the rural rubes she left behind as an ugly-duckling teenager is nothing short of electrifying.
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper
Tears of Gaza (Gazas Tarer), directed by Vibeke Løkkeberg. (Norway, Palestine) – Feature Documentary
Tears of Gaza is a powerful and emotionally devastating record of the impact the 2008 – 2009 bombing of Gaza by the Israeli military as caught by Palestinian cameramen. Directed by Vibeke Løkkeberg, it focuses on the horrific impact of the attacks on civilians, mostly women and children. The movie has been referred to as “the ultimate anti-war film” and indeed will leave viewers disturbed and angry.
Cast: Amira Fat-hi Dawood El Eren, Rasmia Al-Sultan, Yahya Subh
The Two Escobars, directed and written by Jeff Zimbalist, Michael Zimbalist. (USA, Colombia) – Feature Documentary
Born in the same city in Colombia but not related, Andrés Escobar and Pablo Escobar shared a fanatical love of soccer. Andrés grew up to become one of Colombia’s most beloved players, while Pablo became the most notorious drug baron of all time. While adeptly investigating the secret marriage of crime and sports, Michael Zimbalist and Jeff Zimbalist (Favela Rising, TFF ’05) reveal the surprising connections between the murders of Andrés and Pablo.
Featuring: Andrés Escobar, Pablo Escobar, Carlos “Pibe” Valderrama, César Gaviria, Faustino Asprilla, Alias Popeye
Waiting for “Superman”, directed by Davis Guggenheim, screenwriters Davis Guggenheim & Billy Kimball. (USA) – Feature Documentary
The filmmaker, production company and studio behind the Oscar-winning global warming manifesto “An Inconvenient Truth” tackle an even more immediate crisis – the failure of the American public schools. Using the stories of five young students and their hopeful families to illustrate enormous problems involving powerful teachers’ unions and weak politicians, it’s clear there are no easy answers.
Featuring: The Black Family, Geoffrey Canada, The Esparza Family, The Hill Family, George Reeves, Michelle Rhee, Bill Strickland, Randi Weingarten
A Throw of Dice (Prapancha Pash), directed by Franz Osten, screenwriters Niranjan Pal, W.A. Burton, Max Jungk. (India, U.K.) – Feature Narrative
This 1929 silent film has been graced with a new score by British-Indian composer Nitin Sawhney. Describing the story of a craps game between two Indian kings for the hand of a poor beauty, the film features thousands of extras and exotic animals, combining the spectacle of a Cecil B. DeMille biblical epic with an early Bollywood sensibility.
Cast: Seeta Devi, Himansu Rai, Charu Roy, Modhu Bose, Sarada Gupta, Tincory Chakrabarty, Lala Bijoykishen
Arab Short Film Competition
3 Hours, directed by Regan Hall, screenwriter Sam Snape. (U.K., Jordan)
An afternoon football game unexpectedly turns into a gruesome bloodbath in this revenge tale based on an actual 2007 crime. After militants gun down a group of children playing in an otherwise quiet Baghdad suburb, the brother of one victim seeks vengeance while the entire community turns on itself.
Cast: Mohammed Jawal, Rafat Basel, Naseem Baha, Diana Adel, Abdullah Amer
A Film, directed and written by Hisham Bizri. (Lebanon)
A trapeze artist, a snowy street, a fashion runway, a passing woman, a crowd of onlookers. With these and other overlapping, hazy images, there is a metaphorical outpouring of nostalgia, dreaminess, love. This black-and-white tone poem, accompanied primarily by solo piano, is a strange but affecting hallucination.
Cast: Hisham Bizri
Fiasco, directed and written by Nadia Hamzeh. (USA)
Cultural conflicts over marriage, immigration and sexuality are lampooned in the story of Noura, an Arab girl in the U.S. who pretends to be married to her gay friend Daniel so she can obtain a green card and stay in America. Everything seems to be going well until her conservative and overbearing father makes a surprise visit.
Cast: Nadia Hamzeh, Navid Negahban, Chris Payne, David Mate, Melissa Labatut, Dominic Conti
The Fifth Column (Hinkerort Zorasune), directed and written by Vatche Boulghourjian. (Lebanon, USA)
This half-hour slice of cinema, set in the Armenian quarter of Beirut, involves a son who steals his father’s gun and the emotional mayhem that ensues. Family, politics, personal freedom and other themes weave through this narrative, along with the evocative atmosphere of the Bourj Hammoud district itself.
Cast: Harry Simitian, Vartan Megeurdichian, Manuel Markarian, Marie-Rose Manougian, Berge Fazlian
God’s Hand (Mano de Dios), directed and written by Adolf El Assal. (Luxembourg)
An Argentinean immigrant living illegally for nearly half his life in Luxembourg must struggle daily for survival. Inspired partly by a quote from the late American auteur Orson Welles, the film depicts a loner who must fight his way out of the illusion that no one else exists around him.
Cast: Godié, Nilton Martins, Sascha Ley, Gilles Soeder, Nytt, Cico
Missing (Khaberni Ya Taer), directed by Sirwar Zirkly. (Syria)
A TV show called “Missing” is tasked with finding a viewer’s sister, but when she is discovered the brother kills her live on the air. This Arabic drama with English subtitles packs a strong message in little more than 16 minutes.
Once (Marra), directed and written by Nayla Al Khaja. (United Arab Emirates)
This short traces a day in the life of an Arab teenage girl as she gets ready for the initial meeting with the boy of her dreams. We see her transform from a child to a woman, taking risks and telling lies, in order to find what she imagines must be true love.
Cast: Nifin Ghazar Al Din, Hammad Bassim Al Khalif, Shahad Mesk, Bassim Sami Al Khalif
Solo, directed by Laila Samy. (Egypt)
Egyptian filmmaker Laila Samy spends six minutes exploring the crushing pressures of agoraphobia which must be overcome to satisfy a desire for rich, dark, seductive chocolate. Not a single sliver of sweetness in the entire house and a fear of going outside? It’s a rueful affliction but one that must be dealt with.