With the former executive director of New York's well-regarded Tribeca Film Festival, Peter Scarlet, now heading up the Middle East International Film Festival, changes are in store at the third annual event, October 8-17 in Abu Dhabi.
More regional films will be screened in order to better represent the locale. Half of the pictures in the festival's "Black Pearl" competition for narrative feature and documentary features are Middle Eastern, including the world premiere of Iraqi filmmaker Mohamed Al-Daradji's Son of Babylon, and Egyptian director Oussama Fawzi's True Color.
This year's fest opens with the The Traveler starring Omar Sharif by Egyptian director Ahmed Maher. There are a larger number of Middle Eastern films being screened than in previous years since Scarlet has been a long-time champion of Middle East filmmaking.
Hollywood movies are also represented with Steven Soderbergh's The Informant starring Matt Damon, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, and the closing film, The Men Who Stare at Goats, starring George Clooney and directed by Grant Heslov.
Other highlights include Oren Moverman's The Messenger, Yousry Nasrallah's Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story, Robert Rodriguez's Shorts (scheduled for a family gala day and co-funded by Abu Dhabi and Warner Bros.) and Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story.
The World Cinema Showcase includes Iranian helmer Asghar Farhadi's About Elly, Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo, Goran Paskaljevic's Honeymoons, and Claire Denis' White Material.
Also there is a special program devoted to new Turkish cinema, including Seyfi Teoman's Summer Book and Semih Kaplanoglu's Sut.
There will also be master classes, a presentation of silent comedies and a panel of