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    DISPATCH FROM DUBAI | Bridging Cultural Gaps on Screen and Off

    You can't stop what's coming," says a character in Joel and Ethan Coen's "No Country for Old Men," one of several films screening at the fourth annual Dubai International Film Festival that benefited from the event's suspension of the United Arab Emirates censorship laws. It is a sentiment that can only be seen as exciting to residents of a city with a skyline of construction cranes, where the mass majority of property is listed as "under construction," and even the least ambitious plans of what's coming include the world's tallest building, the world's largest theme park, a land extension in the shape of three palm trees (one larger than Pa...

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    indieWIRE INTERVIEW | "A Walk Into The Sea" Director Esther Robinson

    Winner of the 2007 Teddy Award for best documentary at the Berlin International Film Festival, Esther Robinson's "A Walk into the Sea: Danny Williams and The Warhol Factory" is a personal journey into the story behind Esther's uncle Danny Williams 1966 disappearence. At the time, Danny was Andy Warhol's lover and a promising filmmaker, and "Walk into the Sea" explores the discovery of 20 never-before-seen films that Danny made during his time working at the Factory (which included subjects like Warhol, Edie Sedgwick and Paul Morrissey) and combines them with interviews with surviving Factory members. The result is a "dismantling of the Warhol...

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    DISPATCH FROM DUBAI | Re-branding Arab Film with Only an Eye to the West

    The Dubai International Film Festival, like the city itself, does not want for extravagance. Every night, there's a major gala screening followed by a lavish after-party, one for each section of DIFF's programming. Tuesday night's gala celebrated the festival's Arabian Nights program, a selection of non-competition films from Arab filmmakers with a focus on the interaction between Arabs and the Western world, with a screening of Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch's exceedingly sweet-natured "Whatever Lola Wants." The movie, about an American dancer's friendship with an Egyptian belly-dancer, demonstrated the festival's progressive nature by showc...

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    PRODUCTION REPORT | "The Arrangement," "Desdemona: A Love Story," "The Only Good Indian," "Prisoner

    [EDITOR'S NOTE: indieWIRE's monthly production report looks at independent films in various stages of production. If you'd like to tell us about a film in production for future columns, please contact us.]

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    indieWIRE INTERVIEW | "Nanking" Producer Ted Leonsis

    Producer Ted Leonsis' "Nanking" (directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman) tells the story of the Japanese invasion of Nanking, China, in the early days of World War II. As part of a campaign to conquer all of China, the Japanese subjected Nanking, which was then China's capital, to months of aerial bombardment, and when the city fell, the Japanese army unleashed murder and rape on a horrifying scale. In the midst of the rampage, a small group of Westerners banded together to establish a Safety Zone where over 200,000 Chinese found refuge. Unarmed, these missionaries, university professors, doctors and businessmen, including a Nazi named Jo...

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    DISPATCH FROM DUBAI | Never mind the Subtle: Glitz, Stars and Wealth Open a Surging Dubai Film Fest

    Sprawling across an ever-expanding strip along the Arabian Gulf, the Emirate of Dubai is rapidly occupying an entirely unique place in the world. When it is mentioned in the United States, in this luxury magazine or that "Top 40 Celebrity Bling" program on VH1, one hears of a buyer's paradise of co...

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    ROTTERDAM '08 | Kiarostami, Fiennes, Puiu and Panahi Projects in Upcoming 25th Cinemart

    Thirty-nine projects have been selected to participate in CineMart, the co-production market taking place January 27 - 31, which coincides with the 37th International Film Festival Rotterdam. This year's 25th CineMart, which focuses on low and medium budget films, includes projects by Abbas Kiarostami, Sophie Fiennes, Cristi Puiu, Jafar Panahi and Alex van Warmerdam. "The aim for the selection of the 25th anniversary of CineMart was a more focused and selective line up of projects," commented CineMart manager Marit van den Elshout in a statement. "In order to give each project the exclusivity it deserves, we have brought down the number of pr...

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    indieWIRE INTERVIEW | "Billy the Kid" Director Jennifer Venditti

    Director Jennifer Venditti's "Billy the Kid" is a humorous verite portrait of Billy, a 15 year-old outsider growing up in small-town Maine. In many ways, he's a typical teenager who is into heavy metal music and dreams of being a rock star. But he's also unique. A troubled past and ongoing behavioral issues have left him marked. But he's unapologetic about his personality and refuses to be victimized. Billy is funny, sharp, strangely wise for hs age and remarkably candid. Audiences view life from his perspective -- from intimate conversations with his mother, to being bullied at school to his fantasies of becoming a superhero. The audience al...

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    indieWIRE INTERVIEW | "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" Director Julian Schnabel

    Julian Schnabel is death-haunted. This might sound odd about the acclaimed artist and scenester noted for the raw energy of his work, a man with an ego to match his outsize canvases, who has segued with seeming ease from painting to filmmaking. Yet ask Schnabel about "The Diving Bell and the Butter...

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    indieWIRE INTERVIEW | "Protagonist" Director Jessica Yu

    Jessica Yu's latest documentary, "Protagonist," takes on the ambitious topic of applying the dramatic structure of classical Greek playwright Euripedes to contemporary life. Centering on four rather damaged individuals, Yu uncovers the conditions and decisions that brought them to their present state. They include a German terrorist, an "ex-gay" evangelist, a bank robber, and a martial arts student. Certainly a departure from her other current project, the narrative comedy "Ping Pong Playa" (which debuted in Toronto this September), Yu continues to expand her extensive resume, which includes the Academy Award winning short doc, "Breathing Les...

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