'Atonement' will open Middle East film fest


Joe Wright's "Atonement" will kick off the inaugural Middle East International Film Festival in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Oct. 14.

The opener was announced Wednesday by Mohamed Khalaf Al-Mazrouei, director general of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage.

The Keira Knightley-James McAvoy starrer heads a list of films earmarked for MEIFF's Special Presentations sidebar that includes "I'm Not There" from director Todd Haynes. Themed around the music and life of Bob Dylan, the film won the special jury prize at the Venice Film Festival.

Other MEIFF titles selected include Brian De Palma's Iraq war drama "Redacted"; "Rendition," directed by Gavin Hood; and Claude Lelouch's "Roman de gare."

Veteran choreographer Otis Sallid will direct the dance numbers for the opening- and closing-night galas.

"We are honored to present these outstanding films by such talented directors, and look forward to celebrating the art of filmmaking here in Abu Dhabi," Al-Mazrouei said.

"It is an honor to receive such outstanding support from international studios in our inaugural year," added executive director Nashwa Al-Ruwaini. "We are extremely proud of our Special Presentations and look forward to announcing an equally impressive selection of festival competition films."

Added festival director Jon Fitzgerald: "It is indicative of our dedication to the community and demonstrates the support we have from the international and studio communities in our mission to launch a world-class festival."