By Andy Sambidge
Movies supported by Abu Dhabi fund SANAD to have premiere at 39th Toronto International Film Festival
Four Arab films supported by SANAD, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival's (ADFF) development and post-production fund, will be screened at the 39th Toronto International Film Festival, which runs from September 4-14.
This is the fifth consecutive year SANAD films have been screened at TIFF, this year's selections include two narrative films.
Theeb, directed by Naji Abu Nowar and The Valley directed by Ghassan Salhab are two included in the TIFF Docs category of the progamme which also features Iraqi Odyssey, directed by Samir and The Wanted 18, directed by Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan.
Ali Al Jabri, director of Abu Dhabi Film Festival said: "This achievement is a testament to ADFF and SANAD's success in supporting and developing international quality Arab films. It also demonstrates ADFF's continued support for filmmakers in the region.
"SANAD serves as a vehicle for identifying and supporting worthwhile projects and we are confident that such films will go on to create a meaningful body of work that ensures greater Arab artistic representation in contemporary world cinema. Theeb has also been selected for Orizzonti competition of Venice Film Festival later this month; it is the only Arab feature film to be screened in the official selection of this year's programme in Venice."
Theeb, selected to be part of the Discovery Category of TIFF, follows the story of a young Bedouin boy named Theeb who lives with his Bedouin tribe in a forgotten corner of the Ottoman Empire. Having recently lost his father, it falls to Theeb's brother, Hussein, to raise him. Hussein tries to teach Theeb the Bedouin way of life, but the young boy is more interested in mischief than mentorship.
Lebanese director Ghassan Salhab returns to TIFF, following the screening of his film, The Mountain, in 2011, with The Valley, participating in the Contemporary World of Cinema Category.
The story revolves around a man who loses his memory following a car accident in the Beqaa Valley. While stranded, he is held hostage on a local farm that doubles as an illegal drug-production facility.
Additionally, TIFF's Documentaries Category will showcase Iraqi Odyssey by Swiss-Iraqi director Samir, who entered the spotlight following the release of his film Forget Baghdad in 2002.
Iraqi Odyssey is a 3D adventure, telling the story of the director's immigrant family that travelled for half a century recalling dreams that were crushed by the horrors of dictatorship and drawing a portrait of the Iraqi middle class of the fifties and sixties.
In the same category, Palestinian director Amer Al Shomali and Canadian director Paul Cowan showcase their documentary film The Wanted 18. The film sarcastically recreates an astonishing true story from the First Palestinian Intifada: the Israeli army's pursuit of eighteen cows, whose independent milk production on a Palestinian collective farm was declared a threat to the national security of the state of Israel.
SANAD provides not only funding but support to projects starting at the development stage and continues its support until these films reach the big screens.
TIFF opens on September 4 and screens more than 300 films over 10 days and is considered to be one of the world's most prestigious festivals.