The inaugural edition of the Middle East International Film Festival in Abu Dhabi, running Oct. 14-19, is looking better and better. We've already told you about the experienced personnel involved, the contests being sponsored, and the lavish setting. Now the programmers have announced the Special Presentation films, and they're all buzzworthy pictures that have made waves at the festivals they've already played.

The opening night film is Joe Wright's Atonement, starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy and based on Ian McEwan's novel. Cinematical's Ryan Stewart raved about it when it played at Toronto earlier this month; it opens theatrically in the U.S. on Dec. 7.

The Middle East fest's other Special Presentation entries are:
  • I'm Not There, the unorthodox Bob Dylan biopic by Todd Haynes in which five actors and an actress play Dylan at different stages. James Rocchi was wowed by it in Toronto, and it won a special jury prize at Venice. It opens here Nov. 21.
  • Redacted, Brian De Palma's controversial look at American troops in Iraq. It's shot in a documentary style and already has the Internets aflutter with arguments about whether De Palma is the devil. (These arguments almost exclusively involve people who haven't actually seen the film, of course.) De Palma was named best director at the Venice Film Festival this year; Ryan Stewart found the film lacking when he saw it in Toronto.
  • Rendition, by Tsotsi director Gavin Hood, which has an impressive cast -- Jake Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Alan Arkin, Peter Sarsgaard, to name a few -- in a story about a CIA agent witnessing his first torture of a suspected terrorist plotter. It opens stateside Oct. 19, just as it's playing at Abu Dhabi.
Not bad for a brand-new fest, eh? For more info on the Middle East International Film Festival, visit the website.
categories Cinematical