Abu Dhabi Film Festival Adds Cannes, Toronto Favorites to Lineup

Courtesy of Biennale di Venezia
Naji Abu Nowar's Theeb is among the Arab titles in the lineup

The upcoming event also features a number of Arab titles, several financially-backed by the festival

Favorites from this year's Cannes and Toronto festivals, including Winter Sleep, Leviathan, 99 Homes, Whiplash, Timbuktu and Men, Women and Children, will be part of the lineup of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, which kicks off Oct. 23 in the United Arab Emirates' capital.

A raft of Arab titles, many which have also played prominently internationally, will join the Cannes and Toronto alumni. Among the films announced by organizers on Monday are Syrian documentary Return to Homs by Talal Derki, epic 3D doc Iraqi Odyssey by veteran director Samir, Amer Shomali and Paul Cowen’s comedy-tinged Palestinian docu-drama The Wanted 18 — about a herd of cows who were deemed a threat to Israeli security — and Lebanese drama The Valley from Ghassan Salhab.

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Venice winner Theeb is also in the program. Naji Abu Nowar’s historical Bedouin drama received financial support from Abu Dhabi Film Festival’s own Sanad fund. The Wanted 18 and Iraqi Odyssey are also Sanad grantees, while 99 Homes is a co-production by local production house Image Nation Entertainment and Hyde Park, as is family action/adventure Midnight Sun.

As previously announced, the festival is set to open with the world premiere of From A to B, the Image Nation- and twofour54-backed road movie by local Emirati director Ali Mostafa. It will close on Nov. 1 with the regional premiere of Disney 3D animation Big Hero 6.

The festival will also feature a special program dedicated to French filmmaker Francois Truffaut, with a selection of restored films — including The 400 Blows, The Man Who Loved Women, Day For Night and The Last Metro — being screened for the first time in the region.

So far, no big-name attendees to the festival have been confirmed, but previous events have welcomed such international guests as Richard Gere, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Hilary Swank, Demi Moore, Terry Gilliam and David Hasselhoff.