New German language movies that range from art-house films to box-office hits, as well as children’s matinees and late-night movies, will be screened at Cinema Akil, Dubai, and live-streamed in the UAE and Bahrain.
The first edition of the Gulf German Film Festival will be presented in the UAE and Bahrain by the German Embassy Abu Dhabi, in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region, from November 19 to 21.
The Gulf German Film Festival will commence with Undine by Christian Petzold, one of Germany’s most beloved directors. This film premiered at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival. It is a 21st century version of the classical tale of the water nymph who would kill her lover, if he ever betrayed her…
Following Undine is Gundermann, a film by acclaimed director Andreas Dresen. It focuses on the extraordinary and contradictory life of East German singer-songwriter Gerhard Gundermann. This film was a box office success in Germany, and received six German Film Awards (Lolas) including: Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Leading Actor, Best Production Design, and Best Costume Design.
The second day of the programme, Friday November 20, will start with a family matinee of Veins of the World by Byambasuren Davaa. This transports us into the world of the Mongolian steppe. It is followed by an intense social drama, System Crasher, by Nora Fingscheidt, which is about nine-year-old Benni whose past trauma and problems with anger hinder her from finding permanent care. System Crasher won numerous awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Writing as well as Best Actor and Best Actress at the German Film Awards 2020.
Other films to be shown on November 20 include The Perfect Candidate, a Saudi-German co-production by Haifaa Al-Mansour. This tells the story of a young female doctor with political ambitions who takes on the monumental task of running for municipal office within a largely patriarchal society. Friday’s late-night show, The Mover, is a powerful feature film debut about a man who does his utmost to protect his son.
As part of the festival, the “South of the Border” section introduces movies from Switzerland and Austria. One-Way to Moscow, is a comic-tragic take on the political surveillance of Swiss citizens toward the end of the Cold War. The Austrian-German documentary Born in Evin follows the filmmaker and actress Maryam Zaree on her quest to discover the violent circumstances surrounding her birth inside one of the world’s most notorious political prisons.
A festival highlight is A Hidden Life by Terrence Malick. This film tells the true story of an Austrian farmer who refused to fight for the Nazis. As an allegorical resistance drama, it reflects upon courage in the battle against evil.
The closing film of the festival will be Dust by Udita Bhargava. This premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival 2020. It is an Indo-German co-production and is set around a young German who visits rural India after the death of his Indian photojournalist girlfriend. He subsequently embarks on a journey to the troubled heart of India…
Regarding the festival, H.E. Ambassador Peter Fischer commented: “It is truly a pleasure for German film excellence to be featured and made widely available in the UAE, and also Bahrain, despite the challenges in doing so. This is a testament to our close relations and shared interests in such a vibrant and touching cultural field.”
In relation to arrangements for the festival, Fareed Majari, General Director of the Goethe-Institut (German Cultural Center), stated: “Due to the pandemic, this year’s festival will be held in blended mode. We will show the films at Cinema Akil in Dubai and we will stream them throughout the UAE. Filmmakers and talents will take part via video-link. The gala opening and red carpet event will have to wait until next year.”
Butheina Kazim, Founder and Managing Director of Cinema Akil added: “We consider this first edition of Gulf German Film Festival a milestone in our longstanding partnership with the Goethe-Institut Gulf-Region which we have been working on together since the beginning of the year and are proud to see it weather the storm and come to life. The festival is our fourth collaboration with the Goethe-Institut and is the richest and most diverse lineup of German co-productions to screen at Cinema Akil. Since reopening in June, we have done our very best in implementing strict precautionary measures to ensure the safety of our audiences and a comfortable time at the cinema.”
The Gulf German Film Festival is a co-production of the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region, the German Embassy in Abu Dhabi, and Cinema Akil. It is presented in cooperation with and support from German Films, the Austrian Embassy Abu Dhabi, the Embassy of Switzerland Abu Dhabi, and numerous German corporate sponsors.