US director gets political at Marrakech film fest

In my country we are going through a grotesque version of nationalism, said director James Gray. (AP)
Updated 04 December 2018
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US director gets political at Marrakech film fest

  • I’m trying to represent the better part of my country, Gray said.

MARRAKECH: US director James Gray, chairman of this year’s Marrakech film festival, on Monday lambasted his country’s President Donald Trump as an “imbecile.”

“It’s embarrassing, I feel very awkward and I feel I have to apologize every two minutes, because... I’m trying to represent the better part of my country not that one that is represented by an imbecile.”

US actor Robert De Niro, an outspoken critic of Trump, received a tribute award at the festival on Saturday. He used the occasion to launch a fresh tirade against the president and his “America First” mantra.

“Sadly, in my country we are going through a grotesque version of nationalism... marked by greed, xenophobia and selfishness under the banner of ‘America First’,” De Niro said.

Gray, whose films include “Little Odessa” and “The Immigrants,” said De Niro’s latest outburst against Trump was “for me... the moment” of the festival, which opened Friday.


Abu Dhabi Festival reveals exciting 2019 lineup

Updated 10 December 2018
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Abu Dhabi Festival reveals exciting 2019 lineup

  •  Dubbed ADF19, the festival will feature more than 100 events across 25 venues in Abu Dhabi, including 18 productions, two co-productions and two commissioned artworks
  • The festival will also shed light on artists with disabilities, with the central theme announced as “Culture of Determination”

The month-long Abu Dhabi Festival, set to be held in March 2019, announced its art-and-culture filled lineup in a press conference at the Emirates Palace hotel on Monday, with the packed itinerary set to entertain culture vultures in the capital in what will be the festival’s 16th edition.

Dubbed ADF19, the festival will feature more than 100 events across 25 venues in Abu Dhabi, including 18 productions, two co-productions and two commissioned artworks. If that isn’t enough, the festival will also feature more than 500 artists from 17 different countries.

The festival’s headline program includes performances by the Korean National Ballet — set to perform “Giselle,” a romantic ballet about a peasant girl with a passion for dance — and the Korean Symphony Orchestra. Korea has been singled out as ASF19’s “Country of Honor” and organizers are focusing on sharing its classical talent with audiences in the Middle East.

“Abu Dhabi Festival… has been contributing enormously to the region’s intercultural competence, so I’m very happy that Korea could be a part of the wonderful celebration,” the Republic of Korea’s Ambassador to the UAE Kang-ho Park told the press via video link on Monday.  

The festival will also shed light on artists with disabilities, with the central theme announced as “Culture of Determination.”

Festival founder Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo took to the stage alongside Peter Wheeler, CEO of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi, to sign a cooperation agreement at Monday’s press conference and a March 16 concert titled “Stand Up For Inclusion” was announced as one of the main events during next year’s festival.

The festival will also host an exhibition called “Distant Prospects,” presenting the history of European landscape painting through renowned pieces by key figures in the Late Renaissance and Baroque eras.

Other highlights include a performance by award-winning US jazz pianist Justin Kauflin on March 11, a dance show by the Sara Baras Flamenco Ballet Company on March 21 and a full-length, three-act plotless performance by the Paris Opera Ballet, backed by the Pasdeloup Orchestra — the oldest symphony orchestra in France — on March 29 and 30.