Abu Dhabi: A housewife in a race course, a man stuck in the wilderness of a forest and an emotional story from a war zone -- three tales of victory and survival set in three different circumstances marked an interesting beginning to the Abu Dhabi Film Festival that has a bouquet of interesting international stories.
Based on the real life story of a housewife called Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) who decides to take on the men`s world with her horse `Secretariat` and veteran trainer Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich), director Randall Wallace`s ‘Secretariat’ is a movie to watch out for.
The beginning is slightly shaky but as Penny`s colt Secretariat grows into a strong horse, the intensity and emotions are so infectious that you find yourself completely involved in the events as they unfold - when Secretariat surges on the track, your heart takes a leap too and as he creates history by winning the Triple Crown in the race field, you feel like leaping up on your feet and hugging him.
Performance-wise, both Diane and John have got under the skin of the characters by bringing this inspiring tale of a woman`s determination and a failed trainer`s winning glory with conviction.
Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve`s French fictional drama ‘Incendies` brings forth the memories of the 1970s crisis in Lebanon through Nawal. She leaves a cryptic will for her twins telling them that the father they thought was dead is actually alive and that they have a brother as well.
When this reality is unveiled, it not only leaves the two children emotionally shattered, but affects the audience too.
"The story is about the cycle of violence. This is a 30-year-old story but it is important to explore violence so we do not repeat the same. As a Canadian director I knew I would not be able to do justice to the war story because I know nothing about war. But I understand anger and I know about family and that is why my film is based in a fiction land," Villeneuve told reporters during an interaction.
"The film is based on Lebanese-Canadian playwright Wajdi Mouawad`s work. He took inspiration from the stories around him, but he never said that the film was based in Lebanon and I have tried to be as honest as possible to the play by not setting it in any particular region," he said.
If you were in awe of Oscar winner Adrian Brody`s performance in ‘The Pianist’, his acting skills in ‘Wrecked’, which had its world premiere here, will leave you spellbound.
Alone in the wilderness, the film is the story a man who wakes up trapped in a mangled car at the bottom of a wooded slope in the middle of nowhere. What is worse is that due to the shock-induced amnesia, he doesn`t remember anything.
With few dialogues, a strong script and a superb performance by Adrian, director Michael Greenspan narrates the inspiring story of survival.
"It is the story of survival and I hope everyone finds something personal in this film," Greenspan said.
The Abu Dhabi Film Festival, which began Thursday, ends Oct 23.