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Under The RadarA chat with Jury chair Lee Daniels & the results of the 11th Dubai Film Festival

Posted on Thursday December 18, 2014, 09:24 by Nev Pierce in Under The Radar
A chat with Jury chair Lee Daniels & the results of the 11th Dubai Film Festival

A charismatic man, more curious and open than one might imagine from his sometimes somewhat strident films, Lee Daniels has mixed feelings about his time chairing the jury at the Dubai International Film Festival. He’s enjoyed it, learned from it, but also been troubled by it – or, rather, what he’s come to understand about his own ignorance of the Arabic world. “I’m gonna get into trouble,” he says, when asked about what truth he has discovered at the festival. “My publicist isn’t here to protect me!”

Another journalist – there are four of us, chatting with him in the bar at the Mina A’Salam hotel, says we don’t want to get him into bother. But he’s undeterred. “I’m gonna tell you the truth. I was supposed to come here last year, but didn’t make it because I was doing The Butler. So when they asked me to come this year – even though I was doing Richard Pryor [a biopic st...

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Under The RadarPaying the rent, rats and selling out: A lesson from Virginia Madsen

Posted on Thursday December 18, 2014, 05:51 by Nev Pierce in Under The Radar
Paying the rent, rats and selling out: A lesson from Virginia Madsen

As well as serving on the jury at the Dubai International Film Festival, Virginia Madsen sat down for an hour-long Q&A with delegates.

In a wide-ranging and very interesting chat, moderated by E Nina Rothe of the Huffington Post, she touched on various issues – aging, women in film, the difficulties for independent producers – but perhaps the most enjoyable, and quietly inspiring moment, was in answer to an audience question about the dangers of taking jobs just for the money.

It’s long, but for aspirant actors, filmmakers – or, really, anyone in freelance arts – it’s well worth reading what the star of Sideways has to say:

“This is something that actors and filmmakers really beat themselves up about. Because, yes, it would be wonderful if we could all get paid, you know, a million dollars to make the Academy Award winning film... That’s not really the reality of our...

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Under The RadarDubai Film Festival: The unlikely appeal of camel beauty pageants…

Posted on Tuesday December 16, 2014, 12:06 by Nev Pierce in Under The Radar
Dubai Film Festival: The unlikely appeal of camel beauty pageants…

Nearby Sky sounds like it might be a contemplative meditation about life in Arabia. It is actually a documentary about a woman who enters camels in beauty contests. And it is lovely. The subject, Bedouin woman Fatima Ali Alhameli, faces resistance from the event organizers, as the first Emirati female camel owner to enter her stock in the events. They do, indeed, get the hump.

Empire sat down with award-winning producer/director Nujoom Al Ghanem to discuss the charm of her subject, the restrictions she faces as a filmmaker, and whether her inspiring eighth feature was any easier to make than her first…

Fatima, whose journey you follow, is described in the film as “amazing” and…
…and “strange”! She’s hilarious.

You approached her after seeing a short news report about her, didn’t you?
Yeah, I saw her and ...

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Under The RadarMission: Probable - Dubai's attempt to attract Hollywood

Posted on Tuesday December 16, 2014, 04:40 by Nev Pierce in Under The Radar
Mission: Probable - Dubai's attempt to attract Hollywood

Dubai is a testament to what humans can do with determination, imagination and money. A lot of money... The heat and the harshness of the natural environment make the fact it was constructed at all remarkable – let alone that is has become, over a few short decades, such a striking and powerful city. With its high rises, high finance and high proportion of British ex-pat businessmen, it’s a little like living in a JG Ballard novel.

But it’s hard not to admire the determination of the place. Banking and oil and media boom here, and now there is an emphasis on film. Fourteen films and ten TV series shot here in 2014, taking advantage of a customised rebate and the new production facilities – housed appropriately in ‘Studio City’ – built in 2012.

“We have 22 million square feet of a plot: office space, studio space, workshop, warehouses and a backlot,” says Jamal Al Sharif, chairman of the Dubai...

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Under The RadarThe Dubai International Film Festival: Paul Bettany and Russell Crowe turn directors

Posted on Friday December 12, 2014, 03:19 by Nev Pierce in Under The Radar
The Dubai International Film Festival: Paul Bettany and Russell Crowe turn directors

Dubai’s eleventh annual celebration of cinema opened on Wednesday night, with lifetime achievements and an Oscar favourite, though the most intriguing international films here thus far are from actors stepping behind the camera for the first time.

Opening film The Theory Of Everything– for the one of you who hasn’t already read about it – is Working Title’s take on the life of iconic physicist Stephen Hawking. Eddie Redmayne has been justly praised for his portrayal of a great mind trapped in a deteriorating body, but for me the performance of the picture is Felicity Jones as his dedicated wife Jane. In a role that could easily have proved saintly or shrewish, she brings extraordinary charisma and keeps a light in the eye of someone enduring what it means to unconditionally love.

Other true-life pics playing here include The Imitation Game, Foxcatcher and Wild

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