Saturday, December 29, 2007

"Chaos" and "Lola": two striking movies presented at the Dubai International Film Festival

"Some of the most interesting features at the 2007 Dubai International Film Festival were noncompetition films. Among them were two movies, 'Heya Fawda' ('Chaos') and 'Whatever Lola Wants,' that are striking for their similarities and contrasts. The differences between the two films are obvious, not least the filmmakers themselves. With an output of over 40 films, 81-year-old Youssef Chahine, co-director of "Chaos," is an icon in his native Egypt and lauded worldwide.

"Nabil Ayouch, the 39-year-old writer and director of 'Lola,' is one of the rising stars of Moroccan cinema, whose two-feature portfolio - 1997's "Mektoub" and 2000's 'Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets' - are festival and art-house favorites.

" 'Chaos' and 'Lola' do have superficial similarities. Each has been deliberately set in Cairo and ambivalently received in the directors' countries of origin.

" 'Chaos' screened in Dubai, along with Chahine's 1958 classic film 'Bab al-Hadid' ("Cairo Station"), as part of the run-up to his receiving the Dubai festival's lifetime achievement award. The film's Egyptian cinematic release corresponded with the Cairo International Film Festival earlier in the month but 'Chaos' snubbed the event, screening his film a week later at the film festival in Marrakesh.

" 'Lola' did screen late at the Marrakech Film Festival, but it received its world premiere in Dubai (Marrakech's 'competition'), where - as the centerpiece of the festival's Arabian Nights program - it was given a gala screening. [...]

"A story of corruption and unrequited love, 'Chaos' has been feted in Cairo as Youssef Chahine's "return to Egypt" - that is, after helming a series of high-profile autobiographical films, this one once again takes Egyptian society as its subject. [...]

" 'Lola' is about as formulaic a romantic comedy as you'd find anywhere. Many of Ayouch's fans and supporters at the Dubai festival were bewildered that, after seven years in the relative anonymity of Moroccan television and film production, this gifted artist's return to the helm should produce, well, a Hollywood-style movie. [...]

Source: Daily Star (Lebanon), December 29, 2007