Part romance, part drama and part political comment, the film, directed by Najwa Najjar, made its world premiere at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) 2008. It then went on to successes and rave reviews at the Sundance, Rotterdam, Edinburgh, Durban, Locarno, Berlin, Cannes and other global festivals, in addition to special screenings across the United States.
It will screen in the UAE from 1 to 14 September as part of the Dubai International Film Festival’s year-round support of quality, independent Arab cinema.
Set in Ramallah this decade, Pomegranates and Myrrh narrates the story of a dancer whose husband is imprisoned after defending her from an attack by a settler. In his absence and faced with the threat of land confiscation, she seeks to regain her lifelong love of dance – and in so doing meets a Palestinian returnee and choreographer. The film stars veterans of Arab cinema Hiam Abbas, Yassmine Al Massri, Ali Suleiman and Ashraf Farah.
Critics around the world have applauded the film’s first-rate acting, screenwriting and cinematography, and described Pomegranates and Myrrh as “accessible and remarkably well made – not just for a film from this region, but anywhere;” “100% worth a look;” “a heartfelt romance,” and among “the best political films.”
DIFF Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali said the Festival is delighted to help bring quality, contemporary and independent Arab cinema to the UAE audience outside of the Dubai International Film Festival and Gulf Film Festival.
“Our Arab film industry is home to extraordinary films and talents, and we are committed to providing them with the largest possible platform, through the festivals, through our work to promote Arab cinema abroad, and right here at home in the UAE. Appreciation of Arab cinema can only thrive when there is access to it,” he said.
In 2010, the Festival also organised a theatrical run of the top-rated Algerian drama Masquerades at The Picturehouse, as part of the partnership between DIFF and Reel Cinemas to screen a selection of critically acclaimed films. DIFF is looking to build more year-round initiatives, he added.
Pomegranates and Myrrh won the award for the Screenplay Development Fund at the Amiens International Film Festival; four awards at the Festival de San Sebastian Cinema in Motion (2008); Best Arab Film Audience Awards at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival (2009); the Grand Prix at the Amal Arab European Film Festival (2009); Best Actress and Best Cinematographer at the Muscat International Film Festival (2010); and the Youssef Chahine Grand Prix de Cinema and Special Mention for Best Actress at the Festival International de Cinéma d’Auteur de Rabat (2010).
DIFF is held in association with Dubai Studio City. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah, the home of the Dubai International Film Festival, are the principal sponsors of DIFF. The Festival is supported by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.