Festival to feature best of Hollywood and independents

Some of the most acclaimed independent films of the past year will appear at the MEIFF.

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ABU DHABI // Some of the most acclaimed independent films of the past year will appear at the Middle East International Film Festival. The final line-up for the second annual festival was confirmed yesterday, bringing together more than 100 films from all four corners of the globe. Opening the nine-day festival in Abu Dhabi, which begins next week, is the comedy The Brothers Bloom, director Rian Johnson's follow-up to his acclaimed thriller Brick.

The film, which stars Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel Weisz, will be screened at the Emirates Palace hotel at 8.30pm Oct 10. Closing the festival at 7pm Oct 19, at the same location, is the Middle East-based CIA thriller Body of Lies, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Leonardo di Caprio and Russell Crowe. Among the other Hollywood attractions are Miracle at St. Anna, the latest film from Spike Lee, which follows four African American soldiers based in Tuscany during the Second World War. The film screens at 5.45pm Oct 11 at the Cinestar cinema.

Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona will be screened at 9pm Oct 13, at the same cinema. Man on Wire, which won the Grand Jury Prize for World Documentary at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, chronicles the stunning 'wire walk' made in 1974 between the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York. And among the potential surprises is Frozen River, the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year, about a mother who helps illegal immigrants cross between New York state and Canada.

Sir Ben Kingsley appears in two films, the wry comedy The Wackness, and his Oscar-winning Gandhi from 1982. Other directors with films at the festival include Atom Egoyan, Emir Kusturica, Errol Morris and Paul Schrader. Countries screening films at the festival include Syria, India, Canada, Norway and Slovakia. French actress Catherine Deneuve will attend to discuss humanitarian concerns in Lebanon, Susan Sarandon, the star of films such as Thelma and Louise, will discuss the role of women in film.

Arab cinema is well represented at the festival, with screenings of Beirut Open City, the first film made in the city since last year's war, and The Arab Oryx, a film about Sheikh Zayed's legacy, from the UAE. Details are available on @email:www.meiff.com