Politics, history and memory in films raise expectations at festival

LONDON // The 52nd London film festival is hosting a record 15 world premieres alongside the pick of the pictures to have made their bows at Cannes, Venice and Toronto earlier in the year. Together with London, those festivals comprise the grand slam of the circuit, so it is only fitting that the year's celebration of cinema should finds its endgame in Leicester Square. Sandra Hebron, the artistic director of the festival, described the tent-poles of this year's selection as "politics, history and memory". Setting up strong expectations then. Some have argued that this has been a poor year for the film festival. Cannes was seen to be a sombre, less starry-than-usual gathering. Venice was widely regarded as throwing up one of its most meagre selections in a long time. Toronto did not quite ignite any Oscar buzz-campaigns in the way it usually does. So with that, everyone's attention has now turned to London. On the basis of the half-hour clip-reel that wrapped up the press launch, and the two strong statements of intent in the films selected for the opening and closing night galas (Frost/Nixon and Slumdog Millionaire respectively), there appears to be no such cause for concern here. In fact, the line-up is looking to be one of the most diverse and striking yet.
With that, here are my 10 picks of the festival fortnight: Che Part One and Part Two Perhaps the most audacious and ambitious of all the films showing at this year's festival, Steven Soderbergh's twin studies of Che Guevara's campaigns deliver a one-two punch on the theme of revolution. Part One shows Che's role in overthrowing the Batista regime in Cuba, sliced with flash-forwards to his sensational, image-defining appearance at the UN in 1964. Part Two is a piece on bloodshed and political martyrdom in the Bolivian jungle. Benicio Del Toro is so compelling in the title role that, come February, he may well carry off a second Oscar for his efforts.
The Class Laurent Cantet's Palme d'Or winner is an unadulterated delight. Parisian junior high school teacher François Bégaudeau stars in an adaptation of his own book Entre les murs, a tale of good intentions, and broken taboo boundaries, in which he endeavours to engage his inner-city students in language and literature. Sure to be one of the festival's fizziest pop moments.
Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr Hunter S Thompson Oscar-winning documentary maker Alex Gibney garnered a major coup in getting Johnny Depp to narrate his film chronicling the author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - not to mention the founder of Gonzo journalism. But Gibney's unearthing of new archive footage from Thompson's year on the road with the Hell's Angels is the real draw here.
Hunger With the simplest yet most stunning poster-and-trailer campaign currently gripping London, Turner prize-winning Steve McQueen's debut feature is a surefire hot ticket - and a work of outstanding beauty and boldness. The artist has crafted a chilling account of the stand-off between the wardens and the IRA political prisoners at Long Kesh, which led to the hunger strike of 1981. There is an anger at the heart of Hunger, but also an eerie abstract quality - its bravura 24-minute single take being one of the most compelling episodes of cinema I've yet seen.
Salt of This Sea Annemarie Jacir's elegiac debut feature follows Soraya, a young Palestinian-American woman in search of her family's native land for the first time. Landing at Tel Aviv airport, where she encounters a humiliating interrogation, she soon sets off for Ramallah to reclaim her grandfather's small fortune from a Palestinian bank account dating back to 1948, the year of the partition and creation of the state of Israel. It is a restless, righteous film, capturing the stolen beauty of a land, questing on behalf of a people too-long denied a home of one's own.
Synecdoche, New York Having penned many a recent critical darling, from Being John Malkovich to Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Charlie Kaufman bursts out of the writer's shadow in requisite flamboyant fashion with his directorial debut. It is the story of theatre director Caten Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and his pursuit in making his masterwork in Schenectady, New York. For all the film's reported complexities and narrative freefalls, there is real, restrained emotion here too. The top-drawer cast - a veritable smörgåsbord of indie starlets, including Catherine Keener, Michelle Williams and Samantha Morton - explores what it means to be lonely and the fear of failure that plagues us all. Head-spinning, singularly inventive stuff.
Tokyo! Letting loose one Korean and two French directors in Tokyo to make a baggy, impressionistic omnibus film may not sound like much of a highlight, but this one works for its mélange of masters at the helm. First up is Michel Gondry, responsible for the wonderful Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and here in similarly exhilarating mode: a young artist and his girlfriend arrive in the city one rainy night, only to have the world as they know it delicately collapse around them. Bong Joon-Ho (director of The Host) finds a lovely love story in translation, focusing on two quintessentially Japanese phenomena: hikikomori and earthquakes. Leos Carax's segment spins things 180 degrees, as he follows a mysterious man spreading confusion on the city streets with random acts of not-so kindness.
Touki Bouki One of two major restorations by Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Foundation, Djibril Diop Manbéty's 1973 film from Senegal is the pick of this year's Treasures from the Archives strand. Two disaffected young lovers from Dakar dream of a passage to Paris in this nostalgic take on the road movie. Loaded with symbolism, psychedelic colourways and extraordinary music, this is a zigzag odyssey firmly rooted in the West African oral tradition. A barely intelligible yet highly intelligent trip into the heart of lightness, its vibrant colours appear unfaded - miraculously so - in this new digital print courtesy of Bologna's L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona Woody Allen is back on form with his tale of Americans abroad. Straight-laced Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and spontaneous Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are bosom buddies set to spend a summer in the Catalan capital before Vicky weds in the autumn. No sooner do they land than they meet the artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), who suggests a wild weekend in Oviedo, imagined here as a bohemian's enclave - all paint and wine and song and Patricia Clarkson. The result is a picture bathed in a luscious, honeyed light that is just gorgeous to look at - courtesy of cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe's native's eye. But events take a surprising turn, even more so when Juan Antonio's fiery ex-wife Maria (Penélope Cruz) enters the picture. As always, Allen is there to capture the intricacies of romance and passion with his inimitable lighter-than-air sleight of hand.
Waltz with Bashir Set during the Israeli army's mission in the first Lebanon War of the early eighties, the documentary filmmaker Ari Folman has produced a potent anti-war movie, presented in animation form. From its jolt of an opening sequence - in which a fellow comrade is chased by a baying pack of hounds - the film's haunting, visceral visual style is relentless in its documenting of the horrors of war, going so far as to draw parallels between Nazi death camps and the refugee camps in which Palestinians were housed and persecuted in Lebanon. A solitary bugle call on the surreal, futile nature of conflict, this is set to be this year's Persepolis.


Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★


Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now

Know your camel milk:
Flavour: Similar to goat’s milk, although less pungent. Vaguely sweet with a subtle, salty aftertaste.
Texture: Smooth and creamy, with a slightly thinner consistency than cow’s milk.
Use it: In your morning coffee, to add flavour to homemade ice cream and milk-heavy desserts, smoothies, spiced camel-milk hot chocolate.
Goes well with: chocolate and caramel, saffron, cardamom and cloves. Also works well with honey and dates.

Story behind the UAE flag

The UAE flag was first unveiled on December 2, 1971, the day the UAE was formed. 

It was designed by Abdullah Mohammed Al Maainah, 19, an Emirati from Abu Dhabi. 

Mr Al Maainah said in an interview with The National in 2011 he chose the colours for local reasons. 

The black represents the oil riches that transformed the UAE, green stands for fertility and the red and white colours were drawn from those found in existing emirate flags.


Company: Growdash
Started: July 2022
Founders: Sean Trevaskis and Enver Sorkun
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Restaurant technology
Funding so far: $750,000
Investors: Flat6Labs, Plus VC, Judah VC, TPN Investments and angel investors, including former Talabat chief executive Abdulhamid Alomar, and entrepreneur Zeid Husban

Directed by: Craig Gillespie

Starring: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry


The Bio

Favourite vegetable: “I really like the taste of the beetroot, the potatoes and the eggplant we are producing.”

Holiday destination: “I like Paris very much, it’s a city very close to my heart.”

Book: “Das Kapital, by Karl Marx. I am not a communist, but there are a lot of lessons for the capitalist system, if you let it get out of control, and humanity.”

Musician: “I like very much Fairuz, the Lebanese singer, and the other is Umm Kulthum. Fairuz is for listening to in the morning, Umm Kulthum for the night.”

The stats

Ship name: MSC Bellissima

Ship class: Meraviglia Class

Delivery date: February 27, 2019

Gross tonnage: 171,598 GT

Passenger capacity: 5,686

Crew members: 1,536

Number of cabins: 2,217

Length: 315.3 metres

Maximum speed: 22.7 knots (42kph)

You might also like
Central Bank's push for a robust financial infrastructure
  • CBDC real-value pilot held with three partner institutions
  • Preparing buy now, pay later regulations
  • Preparing for the 2023 launch of the domestic card initiative
  • Phase one of the Financial Infrastructure Transformation (FiT) completed

Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed (c), Babar Azam (vc), Abid Ali, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hasnain, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Usman Shinwari, Wahab Riaz

Sri Lanka: Lahiru Thirimanne (c), Danushka Gunathilaka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Avishka Fernando, Oshada Fernando, Shehan Jayasuriya, Dasun Shanaka, Minod Bhanuka, Angelo Perera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Isuru Udana, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara


Thursday (All UAE kick-off times)

Sevilla v Real Betis (midnight)


Granada v Real Betis (9.30pm)

Valencia v Levante (midnight)


Espanyol v Alaves (4pm)

Celta Vigo v Villarreal (7pm)

Leganes v Real Valladolid (9.30pm)

Mallorca v Barcelona (midnight)


Atletic Bilbao v Atletico Madrid (4pm)

Real Madrid v Eibar (9.30pm)

Real Sociedad v Osasuna (midnight)

Brief scoreline:

Manchester United 1

Mata 11'

Chelsea 1

Alonso 43'

Difference between fractional ownership and timeshare

Although similar in its appearance, the concept of a fractional title deed is unlike that of a timeshare, which usually involves multiple investors buying “time” in a property whereby the owner has the right to occupation for a specified period of time in any year, as opposed to the actual real estate, said John Peacock, Head of Indirect Tax and Conveyancing, BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates, a law firm.

The specs

Engine: 5.2-litre V10

Power: 640hp at 8,000rpm

Torque: 565Nm at 6,500rpm

Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto

Price: From Dh1 million

On sale: Q3 or Q4 2022

The specs: 2017 Dodge Viper SRT

Price, base / as tested Dh460,000

Engine 8.4L V10

Transmission Six-speed manual

Power 645hp @ 6,200rpm

Torque 813Nm @ 5,000rpm

Fuel economy, combined 16.8L / 100km

The specs

Engine: 5.0-litre V8

Power: 480hp at 7,250rpm

Torque: 566Nm at 4,600rpm

Transmission: 10-speed auto

Fuel consumption: L/100km

Price: Dh306,495

On sale: now


Director: Ali Abbasi

Starring: Sebastian Stan, Maria Bakalova, Jeremy Strong

Rating: 3/5

The specs

Engine: 2.3-litre 4cyl turbo
Power: 299hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 420Nm at 2,750rpm
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 12.4L/100km
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh157,395 (XLS); Dh199,395 (Limited)

Roll of honour

Who has won what so far in the West Asia Premiership season?

Western Clubs Champions League - Winners: Abu Dhabi Harlequins; Runners up: Bahrain

Dubai Rugby Sevens - Winners: Dubai Exiles; Runners up: Jebel Ali Dragons

West Asia Premiership - Winners: Jebel Ali Dragons; Runners up: Abu Dhabi Harlequins

UAE Premiership Cup - Winners: Abu Dhabi Harlequins; Runners up: Dubai Exiles

West Asia Cup - Winners: Bahrain; Runners up: Dubai Exiles

West Asia Trophy - Winners: Dubai Hurricanes; Runners up: DSC Eagles

Final West Asia Premiership standings - 1. Jebel Ali Dragons; 2. Abu Dhabi Harlequins; 3. Bahrain; 4. Dubai Exiles; 5. Dubai Hurricanes; 6. DSC Eagles; 7. Abu Dhabi Saracens

Fixture (UAE Premiership final) - Friday, April 13, Al Ain – Dubai Exiles v Abu Dhabi Harlequins


15 under: Paul Casey (ENG)

-14: Robert MacIntyre (SCO)

-13 Brandon Stone (SA)

-10 Laurie Canter (ENG) , Sergio Garcia (ESP)

-9 Kalle Samooja (FIN)

-8 Thomas Detry (BEL), Justin Harding (SA), Justin Rose (ENG)

Moral education needed in a 'rapidly changing world'

Moral education lessons for young people is needed in a rapidly changing world, the head of the programme said.

Alanood Al Kaabi, head of programmes at the Education Affairs Office of the Crown Price Court - Abu Dhabi, said: "The Crown Price Court is fully behind this initiative and have already seen the curriculum succeed in empowering young people and providing them with the necessary tools to succeed in building the future of the nation at all levels.

"Moral education touches on every aspect and subject that children engage in.

"It is not just limited to science or maths but it is involved in all subjects and it is helping children to adapt to integral moral practises.

"The moral education programme has been designed to develop children holistically in a world being rapidly transformed by technology and globalisation."

Tips for job-seekers
  • Do not submit your application through the Easy Apply button on LinkedIn. Employers receive between 600 and 800 replies for each job advert on the platform. If you are the right fit for a job, connect to a relevant person in the company on LinkedIn and send them a direct message.
  • Make sure you are an exact fit for the job advertised. If you are an HR manager with five years’ experience in retail and the job requires a similar candidate with five years’ experience in consumer, you should apply. But if you have no experience in HR, do not apply for the job.

David Mackenzie, founder of recruitment agency Mackenzie Jones Middle East


Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now


Champions League last 16, first leg

Tottenham v RB Leipzig, Wednesday, midnight (UAE)

Neymar's bio

Total club appearances 411

Total goals scored 241

Appearances for Barca 186

Goals scored for Barca 105

The specs: 2018 Dodge Durango SRT

Price, base / as tested: Dh259,000

Engine: 6.4-litre V8

Power: 475hp @ 6,000rpm

Torque: 640Nm @ 4,300rpm

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Fuel consumption, combined: 7.7L / 100km

Most Read
Top Videos