DIFF Daily 2010

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Day 5

Interview: Jeff Lerner, senior vice-president, Sony Pictures Entertainment

Dec 16, 2010 - 12:27 PM

Sony Pictures Entertainment’s senior vice-president Jeff Lerner has a decade’s experience in taking the Hollywood major’s television arm into international markets. He tells BEN WALTERS why Sony has established a regional TV production hub in Dubai, alongside offices in Beirut and Cairo. Their first programmes, produced in partnership with local creators and executives such as Sony Pictures Dubai president Ziad Kebbi, are expected to air early next year with more towards the end of 2011. Why has Sony set up shop in Dubai? Sony Pictures is a global player and we produce content that appeals to audiences ... read more

bridging cultures

Dec 16, 2010 - 12:26 PM

It’s Cultural Bridge Day at DIFF, a day where we celebrate the international aspect of the Festival and its motto of ‘Bridging Cultures, Meeting Minds’. To get a sense of what this meant to DIFF guests and volunteers, we went out and about around DIFF Headquarters yesterday with notebooks in hand, to ask you what the concept of a ‘Cultural Bridge’ meant to you. And this is what you told us… BY ASMAA CHAKER SULTANI, NIKHITA SUDHIR ULSA BHATIA and FAIZA SYED (DIFF Volunteers, India) ‘Different films across the world help in bridging cultures. It’s more entertaining to witness other cultures through ... read more

Volunteering for Festival’s success

Dec 16, 2010 - 11:58 AM

Has anyone ever wondered who actually rolls out that red carpet for that festival premiere? Or who makes sure that the crowds don’t mob the celebrities when they parade in front of the world’s cameras? It’s time to shine a spotlight on the volunteers and event managers who toil behind the scenes to smooth our Festival lives in front. This year, DIFF has recruited more than 600 volunteers who ensure that no stone remains unturned. They are mostly recruited through their colleges but there are people who still turn up everyday to register as volunteers. Sahebveer, 20, a student at Dubai’s EMDI college ... read more

Mexico Out of Focus

Dec 16, 2010 - 11:57 AM

For all the international acclaim lavished on Mexican filmmakers these days, Mexico does not do enough to support its own filmmakers. That was the accusation levelled here earlier this week by Mexican director Filipe Cazals, speaking on a panel entitled ‘Y Tu Mexico Tambien’ – Mexico In Focus on Monday. A presentation by Cristina Prado of the Mexican Film Institute said that Mexican films have grossed a record USD31.7m in 2010 so far. But Cazals was not impressed. ‘I would in no way like to go against Cristina in what she has said and the facts and figures she presented but I would like to say this is ... read more

Female Arabian icons cross over to attend DIFF panel

Dec 16, 2010 - 11:57 AM

Saudi Arabia may not have any movie theatres to speak of but it is still the largest distribution market for films in the entire Gulf region. That was the claim from Ahd Kamel, a Jeddah-based producer, director and actress, speaking earlier this week on a panel in which she was joined by some of the biggest female acting talents from the Arab world. The reason so many films get seen in Saudi Arabia - where the only movie-houses are said to be informal theatres housed within foreign compounds – is because so many of the country’s citizens download them from websites. Without paying for them. ‘Part of ... read more

Dubai Film Forum: ‘Focus on Egyptian Cinema’ panel

Dec 16, 2010 - 11:56 AM

A fearless generation of independent filmmakers is emerging out of Egypt, one willing to tackle previously taboo subjects, skirt censorship issues and embrace financial risk where necessary. Typical of this new breed is Mohammed Diab, whose movie, ‘Six, Seven, Eight’, had its first screening at DIFF earlier this week. Speaking on a panel discussion on the state of Egyptian cinema, Diab acknowledged that he took on a big gamble with this film, whose story revolves around sexual harassment, to the point where his personal finances were affected. Inevitably, funding issues dominated the discussion, with all the ... read more

Dubai Film Forum: ‘Casting for Talent’ panel

Dec 16, 2010 - 11:55 AM

If you want to succeed as an actor, it pays to ‘know your enemy’ – the casting director – but don’t do so by being pushy or resorting to frivolous gimmicks to get yourself noticed. That was the advice from Egyptian actor Amr Waked, whose credits include roles in ‘Syriana’ and Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming ‘Contagion’, discussing the function of casting directors at a DIFF panel discussion on Tuesday. According to Waked, the crux of an actor’s success hinges on his ability to perform the role well, and making the audience believe that he is the only person who could play that role. Focus on ... read more

Western programmes reach out to region

Dec 16, 2010 - 11:54 AM

Film education is still relatively new in the Middle East, where previous generations had to travel to the US for their schooling (such as Jordan-born AFI graduate Amin Matalqa, who directed his country's first Oscar submission, ‘Captain Abu Raed’). In recent years, however, American film schools - including USC and the New York Film Academy - have recognised the need for such training and have set up academic programmes in the region. In 2008, the NYFA in Abu Dhabi became the first accredited US film institute in the Middle East, invited by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage to create film and ... read more

Interview: Nayoshi Shiotani, director, ‘Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror’

Dec 16, 2010 - 11:53 AM

In an era of CGI and 3D animation movies comes another magical movie ‘Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror’. It highlights the story of a teenager, whose life is predominated by the death of her mother. Being raised by a workaholic father, her life is lived in solitude. Until one day, when on a trip to the shrine, she follows a fox carrying a toy, in hopes of finding something she lost as a child. And so, the journey begins to the mystical place called Oblivion Island. Having won awards eight awards, including Animation of the Year (Japan Academy Prizes 2009) the movie is now set to screen at DIFF. A ... read more

Interview with Ebrahim Saeedi

Dec 16, 2010 - 11:50 AM

Mandoo A thrilling and strong film, ‘Mandoo’ depicts the heartrending tale of a family torn apart by conflict. ‘The film was born in 2002 when, through the internet, I got to know something about the Kurdish people and their shelters in the south of Iraq. These people lived under harsh conditions for 25 years and this fascinated me to research, which later ended up as a documentary film,’ says Ebrahim Saeedi. ‘This movie is also a reunion of the Kurdish people who lived abroad and are now reuniting in this movie. The main problem was, not having a professional industry in Iraq for filmmaking due to ... read more


Dec 16, 2010 - 11:49 AM

For the DIFF 2010 Cultural Bridge Gala, a very special film was required. A narrative that demonstrated with resource, wit and insight, the clash and resolution of intercultural barriers, the overcoming of adversity and a little love too. Happily, Hesham Issawi’s ‘Cairo Exit’ fits the bill perfectly. LA-based, Cairo-born Issawi tells a tale of star-crossed lovers battling economic, religious, social and emotional divides within a city perpetually teetering on the brink of chaos. For Issawi himself, who creates perspective and hope amidst the ricocheting cultural rhythms of Cairo, ‘Cairo Exit’ serves ... read more

Rawi Projects: Scripting a brighter future for regional film

Dec 16, 2010 - 11:48 AM

In 2009, the Dubai Film Market launched the Rawi Mentor Programme, a programme of the Royal Film Commission Jordan and in consultation with Sundance Institute, whereby a number of screenwriters attend DIFF during the Dubai Film Connection to help them develop their projects further and network with industry professionals at the Festival. Since December 14, the group has been in consultation sessions with their mentor, Mary Davies, attended networking sessions and also had meetings with international professionals attending the DFC. DIFF Daily caught up with the scriptwriters to find out how they’ve been ... read more

Capital Regions for Cinema seeks to expand connections in new regions

Dec 16, 2010 - 11:43 AM

The Capital Regions for Cinema (CRC) network aims to develop international co-production by drawing on the experience and resources of four European bodies: the Berlin-based Medienboard film fund and the film commissions of Ile de France in Paris, Roma-Lazio and Madrid. Representatives of the four organisations made a presentation to the Dubai Film Market at DIFF yesterday before holding networking sessions with delegates and we caught up with them later on. ‘In themselves, Rome, Berlin, Paris and Madrid are international cities so we’re very open to cooperation with regions around the world,’ says ... read more

SALAM to DIFF’s Cultural Bridge Day

Dec 16, 2010 - 11:41 AM

DIFF hosts its ‘Salam – Cultural Bridge Day’ today with the objective of promoting intercultural dialogue and reflecting the credo of the Festival, ‘Bridging Cultures. Meeting Minds.’ The huge potential of cinema as a means of bridging cultures and meeting minds has been central to the growth of DIFF since its inception in 2004. And as the Festival has grown, in line with its wonderfully diverse and cosmopolitan home city, the concept of the Cultural Bridge has remained paramount to its philosophy. And whereas previous editions of DIFF have featured panel discussions and special screenings, 2010, sees ... read more

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