FIERCE! An American Film Showcase Program

In collaboration with the Embassy of the United States in the UAE and the United States Consulate General in Dubai, Cinema Akil presents FIERCE!, an American Film Showcase program dedicated to the women who shook the ground they stood on ... to the girls who threw the ball beyond all limits ... to the strong, bold, and courageous risk takers, homemakers, glass ceiling breakers … to the women who take the world on and never stop.

The special program of success, failures, curiosities, and preoccupations puts women's perspectives front and center on the big screen for the Cinema Akil community.

The program will be presented twice a month at Alserkal Avenue in Dubai and Manarat Al Saadiyat in Abu Dhabi from May until September 2018.


The Films

A4 Space, Alserkal Avenue on May 5 at 7 PM

Manarat Al Saadiyat on May 6 at 7:30 PM



Directed by: Kayla Briët

2016 | USA | PG | Short | English | 13 min 

What happens when a story is forgotten? "Smoke That Travels" is a personal documentary by Kayla Briët that explores preservation and loss of culture and her own identity as Prairie Band Potawatomi.



Directed by: Benh Zeitlin

2012 | USA | PG-13 | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy | English | 93 min

In a forgotten but defiant bayou community cut off from the rest of the world by a sprawling levee, a six-year-old girl, Hushpuppy, exists on the brink of orphanhood. Buoyed by her childish optimism and extraordinary imagination, she believes that the natural order is in balance with the universe until a fierce storm changes her reality. Desperate to repair the structure of her world in order to save her ailing father and sinking home, this tiny hero must learn to survive unstoppable catastrophes of epic proportions.

A4 Space, Alserkal Avenue on May 12 at 7 PM

Manarat Al Saadiyat on May 13 at 8 PM



Directed by: Zackary Canepari, Drea Cooper

2015 | USA | PG | Documentary | English | 89 min

17-year old Claressa "T-Rex" Shields from Flint, Michigan has a dream of being the first woman in history to win the Gold medal in Olympic boxing. But in order for her to succeed, she will need to stand her ground both inside and outside of the ring. "T-Rex" is an intimate coming-of-age story about a new kind of American heroine. For the first time ever, women's boxing is included in the 2012 Olympics. Fighting for gold from the U.S. is Claressa "T-Rex" Shields, just 17 years old, and by far the youngest competitor. From the hard knock streets of Flint, Michigan, Claressa is undefeated and utterly confident. Her fierceness extends beyond the ring. She protects her family at any cost, even when their instability and addictions threaten to derail her dream. Claressa does have one stable force in her life: Coach Jason Crutchfield. Her trainer since she was just a scrawny 11-year-old hanging out at his gym. Jason always wanted a champion; he just never thought it'd be a girl. Her relationships with her coach and her family grow tenser as she gets closer and closer to her dream. But Claressa is fierce and determined. She desperately wants to take her family to a better, safer place and winning a gold medal could be her only chance.


A4 Space, Alserkal Avenue on June 23 at 7 PM

Manarat Al Saadiyat on June 24 at 7:30 PM



Directed by: Kathlyn Horan

2016 | USA | PG-13 | Documentary | English | 90 min


The If Project is a feature length documentary that follows a group of inmates incarcerated in a maximum- security women's prison who are part of a writing workshop co-created by a Seattle police detective and a repeat offender serving a nine-year sentence. The writing workshop provides access to an emotional depth and intimacy we are not often afforded with those behind bars. We journey with them as they take a brutally honest look into their past and work to explore, often for the first time, what exactly led them to prison. These stories serve as a launching off point to follow three of the women in the program as they are released, reunited with their families and faced with life on the outside. Most astoundingly, they do all of this with a police officer by their side every step of the way. We watch as a lasting bond is formed and this unlikely partnership between cop and convict unfolds. What the The If Project allows us is an intimate journey into a world of the locked away and forgotten. It opens our eyes to the real struggles of those who are trying to reenter society - and the many obstacles they face.


A4 Space, Alserkal Avenue on June 30 at 7 PM

Manarat Al Saadiyat on July 1 at 7:30 PM



Directed by: Nora Poggi, Insiyah Saeed

2016 | USA | G | Documentary | English | 80 min


Following five women over two years as they pitch VCs, build teams, bring products to market, fail and start again, SHE STARTED IT takes viewers on a global roller coaster ride from San Francisco to Mississippi, France and Vietnam. Along the way, it weaves in big-picture perspectives from women like investor Joanne Wilson; White House CTO Megan Smith; GoldieBlox CEO Debbie Sterling; and Ruchi Sanghvi, the first female engineer at Facebook. Through intimate, action-driven storytelling, SHE STARTED IT explores the cultural roots of female underrepresentation in entrepreneurship-including pervasive self-doubt, fear of failure, and risk aversion among young women. It exposes, too, the structural realities women face as they become entrepreneurs, including lack of female role models and investors, and the persistent dearth of venture capital funding made available to women-led companies.



A4 Space, Alserkal Avenue on July 14 at 7 PM

Manarat Al Saadiyat on July 15 at 7:30 PM



Directed by: Jessie Auritt

2016 | USA | PG | Documentary | English | 80 min


When a nine-year-old girl breaks a powerlifting world record, she turns into an international phenomenon and "Supergirl" is born. Naomi Kutin seems like a typical Orthodox Jewish pre-teen, until her extraordinary talent transforms the lives of her family and thrusts her into news headlines. SUPERGIRL follows Naomi's unique coming-of-age story as she fights to hold on to her title while navigating the perils of adolescence-from strict religious obligations to cyber-bullying, and health issues which could jeopardize her future in powerlifting. Can she still be "Supergirl" if she can no longer break world records? With a passionate family supporting her each step of the way, Naomi must learn to accept herself and discover she is as strong inside as she is outside.


A4 Space, Alserkal Avenue on July  28 at 7 PM

Manarat Al Saadiyat on July 29 at 7:30 PM



Directed by: James Lapine

2016 | USA | PG | Drama | English | 99 min


Legal proceedings and intimate family dynamics dovetail in Custody. Starring Viola Davis as an embattled family court judge with a fraught marriage of her own; Hayden Panettiere as a recent law-school grad flung into a custody case; and Catalina Sandino Moreno plays the single mother at the center of the case who risks losing her two children over an ill-timed argument.


A4 Space, Alserkal Avenue on Aug  11 at 7 PM

Manarat Al Saadiyat on Aug 12 at 7:30 PM



Directed by: Izzy Chan

2016 | USA | PG | Drama | English | 64 min


With baby number 4 on the way, Bonnie and Chip (Portland, Oregon) are working through a delicate transition. Bonnie is frustrated by how much she is doing at home while being the primary breadwinner. Chip walks away from his flailing business to step up at home-and struggles with an identity crisis. Chuck and Amy (Washington, D.C.) are comfortable with Amy as the main earner and Chuck supplementing. But when Chuck is laid off, the loss of income is keenly felt in this modest middle-class family. Julee and Ross (Nashville, Tennessee) see their flip as temporary while Ross launches his career as an actor. They are moving the family across the country to Los Angeles with high hopes for his acting career. Fred and Robyn (Seattle, Washington) are stuck in a rut. They fell in love as young snowboarders. But 15 years and 2 kids later, Robyn feels trapped as the sole income provider. Meanwhile Fred, his professional snowboarding career over, struggles to find work. Over 18 months, The Big Flip follows the lives of these four "flipped" families where the wife wins the bread and the husband takes care of home and kids.


A4 Space, Alserkal Avenue on Aug 18  at 7 PM

Manarat Al Saadiyat on Aug 19 at 7:30 PM



Directed by: Erin Bagwell

2016 | USA | PG | Drama | English | 85 min


Dream, Girl is a documentary film showcasing the stories of inspiring and ambitious female entrepreneurs. From brand new startups to million dollar industries, it's time we stop telling girls they can be anything they want to be and show them what it means to be a leader.


A4 Space, Alserkal Avenue on Sept 1 at 7 PM

Manarat Al Saadiyat on Sept 2 at 7:30 PM



Directed by: Vikram Jayanti

2016 | USA | PG | Drama | English | 113 min


At 83 years old, Loretta Lynn is the reigning matriarch of country music, still touring sold-out houses around North America and influencing a whole new generation of country singer-songwriters. Her astonishing rags-to-riches story (dramatized in Michael Apted's 1980 Oscar-winning movie Coal Miner's Daughter) embodies the American Dream so utterly that if you'd made it up as fiction it would be too incredible to believe. Her early songs transcended country music, with her lyrics helping lead the wider charge of feminism and other social issues in the 60's and 70's, and at the age of 72 she released a Grammy-winning, bestselling album with rock icon Jack White. With the help of Jack White, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Miranda Lambert, Michael Apted and Sissy Spacek, multi-award-winning filmmaker Vikram Jayanti's latest feature documentary explores Loretta's almost 60 year career, her roots in the hardscrabble coalmining mountains of Appalachian Eastern Kentucky, and how she's recreated her birthplace in the remote hamlet of Butcher Holler, Kentucky, at her vast ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, outside the Nashville that she helped transform over the last six decades. And the music's great too: after seeing LORETTA LYNN: STILL A MOUNTAIN GIRL, you may never be able to get her songs out of your head.