European Film Screenings opens with a mission to inspire

The European Film Screenings began on Wednesday, October 21, at Abu Dhabi World Trade Centre Mall’s Novo Cinema with the opening film, the Oscar-nominated animated feature Song of the Sea.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, greets guests prior to the European Film Screenings at Novo cinemas. Christopher Pike / The National
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The European Film Screenings began on Wednesday, October 21, at Abu Dhabi World Trade Centre Mall's Novo Cinema with the opening film, the Oscar-nominated animated feature Song of the Sea.

Held under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan — who was also present at the opening night — the event kicked off a ten day bonanza of European cinema with free screenings held each night at the Novo Cinema and Dubai’s Ibn Battuta Mall Cinema.

Founder and artistic director of the European Film Screenings, Alessandra Priante, said the event aims to more variety to film buffs.

“Ninety per cent of the films we see at the cinemas are American and this is the case not only in the UAE but also in Europe,” she stated.

“It’s only through windows like these screenings that we are able to show the strength and beauty of cultural diversity through cinema.”

Rumours that Angelina Jolie might turn up to the opening screening were proved false.

The Academy Award winning actress, whose husband Brad Pitt is believed to be in Abu Dhabi shooting his Netflix production, War Machine, is presently working closely with Song of the Sea's producer Stephan Roelants and his company Melusine Productions.

They are both producers on another animated film, The Breadwinner, about a young girl living under the Taliban in Afghanistan. Unbeknown to the audience, Jolie had been invited to the opening screening by Roelants, who had flown in from LA to address the audience.

Although Jolie couldn't make it, cinema-goers were instead treated to an bonus: the appearance of acclaimed director Laurent Witz whose Oscar-winning short film, Mr Hublot, was screened after Song of the Sea. Witz's film will screen again on Friday as part of the Luxembourg Short Film Corner.

The European Film Screenings are held until October 31 at Abu Dhabi's World Trade Centre Mall's Novo Cinema and Dubai's Ibn Battuta Mall Cinema. All European Film Screenings sessions are free. Click here for the schedule.

artslife@thenational.ae