Arab pics top must-see list at Dubai market

Moroccan, Palestinian films garnering most buzz

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DUBAI -- Arab films are proving to be the most popular titles at the first Dubai Film Market where the Moroccan drama "Casanegra" is so far the most-viewed of the 211 titles screening.

Making its world premiere at the festival, Nour-Eddine Lakhmari's film follows a man who alternates between hope and despair on the streets of Casablanca. The film is being sold by Sigma Technologies.

The Palestinian film "Pomegranates and Myrrh," which made its world premiere at the festival Saturday night, and the Algerian-set "Masquerades" tied for second place on the list.

An Algerian-French co-production, Lyes Salem's "Masquerades" is set in a small Algerian village and revolves around an arrogant villager, played by Salem, whose only dream is to be accepted by his fellow villagers. Both films are competing for a Muhr Award for Excellence in Arab Cinema.

"Pomegranates and Myrrh," which plays in the Arabian Nights' section, is the directorial debut of Najwa Najja, who is one of five female Palestinian directors participating in the festival. The film is set in Ramallah and follows a free-spirited dancer who finds herself alone after her husband is jailed.

"It is interesting to see the statistics," market director Ziad Yaghi said. "You hear people in here recommending titles to each other, and then you see those conversations reflected in the numbers."
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