10am and I find myself at the Mall of the Emirates for a special press screening of the clever documentary “Czech Dream.” It’s actually the biggest ever consumer hoax in the history of the post-communist Czech Republic. The two filmmakers behind the cunning documentary devised an advertising campaign for a hypermarket that didn’t exist. Over 2000 people showed up on the ‘opening day’ of this fictional super-store only to find themselves in a green field holding huge scaffolding. A cruel joke or a sharp little experiment that strips away issues surrounding mass consumerism? ““Czech Dream” is a funny, provocative thought-piece; it is one of the rare breed of documentaries that also effected socio-political change: the Czech Prime Minister was forced to defend his government’s position on joining the EU because of it. Read my full review.
3pm and its time to do an interchange, two traffic signals and a basement car parking to get to the “Paradise Now” screening at the Madinat Jumeirah. This is a popular film here for obvious reasons. The story is about the last 24 hours in the life of two young Palestinian suicide bombers. “Paradise Now” has garnered international acclaim and for the right reasons. The film’s director, co-producer and lead actors were on hand for a Q&A after the screening. My colleague Faizan Rashid shares his thoughts on the film and the Q&A that followed.
It’s 6.30pm already and I am looking at director Michael Caton-Jones standing under the screen introducing his “important” film “Shooting Dogs" to an expectant audience. A few minutes in and I am already bored out of my skull. I have this problem with films that take an important subject – such as the Rwandan genocide, for example – and build a story around an incident in history. I had thought that Terry George’s “Hotel Rwanda” was slightly above-average for similar reasons but “Shooting Dogs” is simply terrible. It is badly acted, badly written and just plain bad! We had Caton-Jones and actor Hugh Dancy talking up the importance of the film before and after the screening. I admire their empathy for the great tragedy in Rwanda, trust me I really do, but I resent them for trying to augment what is very easily sentimental tripe. Give this one a pass folks. Thank me later.
9.30pm. It is time to see Michael Haneke’s “Cache (The Hidden)". Let me say this. This is, as of now, the best film I have seen at DIFF 2005. “Cache” is a complex psychological drama and taut thriller about a seemingly happily married couple who begin to receive a series of disturbing notes and videotapes on their front porch. As the tapes continue to arrive, however, they begin to reveal long-hidden secrets about these characters. The film is a jaw-dropping achievement in craft and technique and belongs in the cinematic universe that houses the spirit of Stanley Kubrick and the sensibility of Korean master filmmaker Chan-wook Park. My colleague Faizan Rashid provides you with a savoury review.
Ready for Day 3 of DIFF? -- by Adnan Khan