AHMED RACHEDI - (PRESIDENT)
Born in Algeria in 1938, Ahmed Rachedi is an acclaimed director, writer and producer. His documentary debut was ‘Peuple En Marche’ (1963). In 1969, he contributed to the Oscar-nominated ‘Z’, and in 1981, his 1978 film ‘Ali Au Pays Des Mirages’ won a Special Prize at the Moscow Film Festival.
KHALED EL SAWY
Khaled Al-Sawi is a prominent, award-winning Egyptian actor, director and author, especially known for his progressive work in Egyptian art house cinema. Key films include ‘Amaret Yacoubian’, ‘Kabareh’ and ‘Playing In The Brain’. His poetry is regularly published, and he is a regular contributor to the blog ‘Bread And Freedom’.
Mostafa Messnaoui is a film critic, writer, translator. Between 1977 and 2005, he was a teacher at Hassan II University in Casablanca. Messnaoui has served as an advisor to the Moroccan Ministry of Culture and is a frequent jury member on the international film festival circuit.
Tim Smythe is the CEO of Dubai-based production company Filmworks. Launched in 1998, Filmworks has partnered with international studios for productions with Warners (‘Syriana’) and Universal (‘The Kingdom’). Filmworks produced DIFF 2009’s Arabian Nights Gala screening ‘City Of Life’, by Ali F Mostafa.
Former journalist and film critic for ‘Liberation’, Edouard Waintrop is the Artistic Director of the Fribourg International Film Festival in Switzerland. In this role, he has been a long-time champion of Asian, African and Middle Eastern cinema.
OMAR AMIRALAY - (PRESIDENT)
Omar Amiralay was born in Damascus in 1944. While studying film in Paris, the 1968 student revolt inspired him to abandon fiction for documentary. Upon returning to Syria in 1970, he directed ‘Film-Essay on the Euphrates Dam’, which heralded a celebrated forty-year career that has tackled social, political and cultural issues across the Middle East. Currently, he is founding the Arab Institute for Film for young documentary filmmakers in the region.
Omar Al-Qattan is a director and producer. Over a career spanning nearly twenty years he has directed a number of critically-acclaimed productions including the Joris Ivens Award-winning ‘Dreams And Silence’ (1991), the US network PBS’s ‘Muhammad – Legacy Of A Prophet’ (2002) and ‘Going Home’ (1995). He has also produced films by Palestinian director Michel Khleifi. With his family, he founded the AM Qattan Foundation which is one of the leading independent cultural and educational organizations.
Alan Franey is the Director of the Vancouver Film Festival, a post he has held since 1988. As well as running executive and programming functions of the Festival, he oversees VIFF’s year-round exhibition facility, the Vancouver International Film Centre, which opened in 2005. Under Franey’s direction, the non-fiction documentary programming at VIFF has expanded over the years to the point where it is now the largest nonfiction component of any general international film festival.
M. F. HUSAIN - (PRESIDENT)
Maqbool Fida Husain is one of India’s best known artists and his work over a career of over seven decades has been prolific. From painting cinema billboards in the 1930s, he has progressed to the point where he is regarded internationally as the most important Indian artist of the 20th century. He has also produced and directed films, including ‘Through the Eyes of a Painter’, ‘Gaja Gamini’ and ‘Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities’, as well as a number of short 16mm pieces.
Saad Hendawy was born in Cairo and graduated from the city’s Higher Institute of Cinema. He has directed features including ‘Halit Hobb’ (2004) and ‘Alwan Al Sama Al Sabaa’ (2007)and shorts, ‘Fall’s Visit’ and ‘Ordinary Sunday’. He has participated in juries at the Clermont Ferrand International Short Film Festival-France 2007 and the Festival Miroirs et Cinémas d’Afriques-Marseille-France 2009.
Critic, editor, lecturer and broadcaster, Clare Stewart is Festival Director of Sydney Film Festival. Previously, she was Head of Film Programs at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (VIC) where she was responsible for the creative direction of ACMI cinemas. She has also previously programmed for the Australian Film Institute and the Melbourne Cinematheque.
BAHMAN FARMANARA (PRESIDENT)
Bahman Farmanara is an Iranian film director, screenwriter, and film producer. He has produced some Abbas Kiarostami’s first feature, ‘The Report’ (1977), Bahram Bayzai’s ‘The Crow’ (1977), Khosrow Haritash’s Divine One (1976), Mohammad-Reza Aslani’s’ Wind and Chess’ (1976) and Valerio Zurlini’s Desert of the Tartars (1977 co-production with Italy and France).Farmanara moved to Canada in 1980, establishing a distribution company and a film festival for children and young adults in Vancouver. He returned to Iran in the late 1990s.
Nour-Eddine Lakhmari was born in Safi, Morocco, in 1964. After briefly studying Pharmacy in France, he switched to film making and enrolled at the Cinema Academy of Oslo, where he began working on short pieces. His debut feature length film, ‘Le Regard’ (2005) won several awards.
Keith Shiri is a film curator and founder/director of Africa at the Pictures, a festival of African cinema based in London. He is a programme adviser to the London (and in 2004 and 2005, Venice) Film Festival and an advisory board member of the African Movie Academy Awards. He is currently on the advisory board of New York’s Focus Features Africa First programme, which supports young African filmmakers.
Manisha Koirala is a Nepali actress who works in Indian films, as well as a UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador and social activist. Koirala has primarily worked in Hindi cinema, though she has appeared in several Tamil films as well. She is also an accomplished Bharatnatyam and Manipuri dancer.
Jean-Michel Frodon is a journalist, critic and historian of cinema. A former teacher and photographer, he began writing film criticism in 1983. In 2003, he became head editor of Cahiers du cinémas’. His many books of film criticism and analysis include ‘Jean de Florette: a folle aventure d’un film”, co-written with Jean-Claude Loiseau and ‘Le Cinéma Chinois’ (2006).
BUDDHADEB DASGUPTA - (PRESIDENT)
Buddhadeb Dasgupta is a poet and contemporary filmmaker. Born in Anara, he studied economics at Scottish Church College and at the University of Calcutta before embarking on a cinematic career. He is best known for works including ‘Bagh Bahadur’, ‘Tahader Katha’, ‘Charachar’ and ‘Uttara’.
Cameroonian filmmaker Osvalde Lewat is based in France. Following a journalistic career, she turned to documentary film making with ‘Upsa Yimoowin’ (‘The Pipe Of Hope’). Her breakthrough film was ‘Beyond The Pains’ (2003) which won several international awards for its frank assessments of a failing legal system. This was followed by ‘A Love During The War’ and ‘Black Business’ (2008).
Mohammad Bakri is an award-winning actor and filmmaker. He has acted in film and theatre in Israel and the Palestinian West Bank. His acclaimed documentary, ‘Jenin-Jenin’ won Best Film at the Carthage International Film Festival in 2002 and the International Prize for Mediterranean Documentary Filmmaking and Reporting.
GYÖRGY BÁRON - (PRESIDENT)
Hungarian film critic and publicist Báron is a professor of film at the University of Drama and Film, as well as being the President of the Hungarian Society of Film Critics at FIPRESCI. A prolific and respected critic, his reviews, essays and documentaries books have been shaping American and European cinematic discourse for over thirty years.
One of the world’s leading authorities on Kazakhstani cinema, Gulnara Abikeyeva has lectured and written for a massive global audience. From lecturing at Harvard, Yale and Stanford universities to working as Programme Co-ordinator at the Soros Foundation in Almaty, this former Fulbright scholar has created awareness and understanding of her country’s rich, fertile cinematic tradition, through books such as ‘New Kazakh Cinema’ (1998).
Arab Loutfi is a respected documentary filmmaker, writer and journalist. With extensive experience in feature films (working alongside Mohammad Khan and Atef Altayeb), she moved into documentary with ‘The Upper Gate’ (1991), chronicling the recent history of Sidon, in Lebanon. ‘Jamila’s Mirror’ (1998) profiled female Palestinian ex-guerilla fighters. Recent years have seen a strong, passionate canon of work emerging that typically focus on marginalized elements of society in Lebanon and Palestine.
Art Jones began his career as a production assistant on ‘Schoolhouse Rock’, an educational cartoon that screened on US network ABC for over six years. With a career that straddles major achievements in audio-visual media and education, he has most recently, written/directed and produced acclaimed educational documentaries.
MANSOORA A. AMIR
A Bahraini journalist, Mansoora Al Jamri is the Cultural Editor at Al Wasat Newspaper in Bahrain. A graduate of Middlesex University in London, she began her journalistic career by editing two cinema pages a week – three years later, this had expanded to a 16-page supplement. She is a member of the Bahraini American Cultural Exchange Society and has participated as a jury member in the Al Reef Short Films Festival in 2008.
KANWAL TARIQ HAMEED
Kanwal Tariq Hameed is a tutor at the Humanities Department at the University College of Bahrain. She has worked and studied in the Middle East and the UK researching contemporary human rights issues and writing and speaking on related topics.