There is much to be excited about now that the Dubai Int'l Film Festival has posted their entire program on their website. This whole event is going to be one big ol' love fest for me. I sorta feel like all those overly excited geeks the week before Comicon comes to town.
Overwhelmed by all this new information, I must start somewhere. All I know (and care) about are the Arabic films (I don't know about the rest of you, but I ain't flyin' half way around the world to go watch Bobby) and I think that the shorts are fair place to begin.
Two excellent Palestinian shorts are competing in the Muhr Awards/Short Film Competition Program. Oddly, they're both about little kids. Perhaps both the directors recognize the need for the world to see Palestinians as human beings. And really, aren't cute kids a little more human than the rest of us jaded and bitter assholes?
ITAMANAH (Make a Wish) by Cherien Dabis was funded and produced (at least partly, I think) by the National Geographic All Roads Film Project. It's about a little girl in Ramallah who attempts to raise enough money to buy a birthday cake. Pushed to the edge in desperation, she and her little sister become quasi-hustlers for a day. It's beautifully shot and the performances Cherien got out of these two little girls was quite remarkable.
BE QUIET by Sameh Zoabi won 2nd place at Cannes for best short in 2005. It has some similar themes as La Vita e Bella, in that a father attempts give his son an optimistic view of the world in the most hopeless of situations, but in this case it's while travelling through the Occupied Territories.
Finally, showing in the Arabian Nights Program is SABE'E KELAB (The Seventh Dog) by Zienna Durra. This short addresses the issues that two privileged young Arabs face/d while living in New York City after 9/11. I expect some critics will say, "When you're a rich Arab living abroad, engaging in politics is optional. Why should we care about this couple?" In response to that, I say that this short conveys a simple and important point to which people should probably give a little more credence: "Don't hate Arabs! They're so hot and stylish!"