Abu Dhabi Film Festival Kicks Off With Local Production

Ed Pressman

The Middle East event handed producer Ed Pressman a lifetime achievement award

The 8th edition of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival kicked into geared Oct. 23 with the world premiere of local Emirati feature From A to B.

The film, a road movie featuring Saudi comic Fahad Albutairi in his full feature debut and rising Palestinian actress Leem Lubany, was well received by the audience at the United Arab Emirates’ opulent Emirates Palace.

"This is the first time that the Abu Dhabi Film Festival has opened with an Emirati film," said the festival director Ali Al Jabri, adding that the drama — a co-production between local outfits twofour54 and Image Nation Abu Dhabi — would be going on general release across the country on Jan. 1.

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The opening event also saw lifetime achievement awards given to U.S. producer Ed Pressman and Oscar-nominated French/Algerian director Rachid Boucharab.

Pressman told the audience that he had recently finished work on his 90th feature, a drama about Indian math genius Srinivasa Ramanujan called The Man Who Knew Infinity starring Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Toby Jones and Stephen Fry.

"But there are many more in the pipeline,” he said.

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The festival, which runs until Nov. 1, is also set to screen titles including Camp X-Ray, Winter Sleep, ’71, Return to Homs, Timbuktu and Whiplash. It will close with the screening of Disney’s animated superhero adventure Big Hero 6.