DIFF Daily 2011

Interview: Abdulhamid Juma Chairman of DIFF

Dec 13,2011 - 05:13 PM

How would you describe the evolution of DIFF over the last eight years? Did you ever think the festival would open with a film of Mission:Impossible’s calibre and with cast in attendance?

Abdulhamid Juma: Yes and no. Yes, because I knew something special would happen, no, because I didn’t have the specifics in my mind. We were the first in the region to launch an international film festival and I always knew Dubai has what it takes to be spectacular. Every year since 2004, we’ve always wanted to outdo the previous edition. And we continue to surprise ourselves. I wouldn’t attribute it to luck, but because we love what we do.

And it’s a great line-up of films…

AHJ: Yes it is, 171 films. Some might think it’s too early for DIFF to be scaling such heights, some might think it’s too late. I say to them all, we’re heading in the right direction, and I’m personally very humbled by the progress we’re making as a festival.

You’re raising expectations for future editions.

AHJ: (chuckles) We are, but I’m confident we’ll keep bringing on the surprises. We want to be known for bringing the unexpected each year.

What kind of impact on the local film industry do you hope for, through ‘Mission:Impossible’?

AHJ: Dubai is already a city that’s popular with filmmakers as a location. ‘Mission: Impossible’ is probably one of the first films that has used Dubai as Dubai and not as a substitute for some other fictional place. In addition to taking Dubai all over the world, the filming of such productions should inspire our young filmmakers, when they see them being produced in their backyard. It’s great for business and the industry.

As festival chairman, you travel all over the world attending festivals. What’s the perception of DIFF amongst industry professionals internationally?

AHJ: I’m very proud of the team and all those who work at the festival. When I travel and when I say I work for DIFF, I hear nothing but praise for the festival and Dubai. I sometimes get the feeling we’re known more outside of the UAE.

The big 10th anniversary will soon be upon the festival. Any grand plans?

AHJ: We will do something fantastic but it’s more important to look back, look internally. I want us to be able to assess the impact on the industry, what we’ve achieved and what we need to rectify, to leave a real legacy. None of us are going to be here forever. The festival is much bigger than all of us and we need to ensure that we leave behind something substantial for future generations to manage.

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