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127 Arab filmmakers compete for 2009 Dubai Film Connection

Wed Oct 21,2009

Everyday is a HolidayDIFF seed fund celebrates third global success as DFC project ‘Every Day is a Holiday’ makes global premiere in Toronto International Film Festival

Record number of entries span Levant, Maghreb and Europe

The Dubai Film Connection, the seed fund of the Dubai International Film Festival, has received 127 submissions from Arab-origin filmmakers around the world for its 2009 edition, breaking all previous entry records. The majority of DFC 2009 submissions are from Lebanon, Palestine, France, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia, representing the diversity of the Arab world.

Rounding out a month of success at home and abroad, the fund also celebrated the global debut of Lebanese drama and DFC project Every Day is a Holiday at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. The first feature from director Dima El-Horr is one of 34 Arab film projects nurtured by the Dubai Film Connection since its 2007 launch and its third global success.

DIFF’s Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali said the twin successes reflect the abundance of talent in the Arab world and underscore the need for a dedicated platform to promote it.

“One of DIFF’s core goals has always been to showcase excellence in Arab cinema, and that begins with finding, encouraging and elevating talented filmmakers,” Al Ali said. “By offering the right networking opportunities with the best in the industry, and the endorsement of the leading festival of the region, the Dubai Film Connection has opened doors for deserving Arab talent around the world, and we are very proud to see our protégés receive global acclaim.”

Every Day is a Holiday joins Amreeka and The One Man Village as the most successful films to emerge from the DFC 2007 stable so far. Amreeka, the lighthearted story of a Palestinian immigrant family, made its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win the prestigious FIPRESCI International Federation of Film Critics prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Canada’s Hot Docs festival selected Lebanese documentary The One Man Village as Best International Feature documentary this year; the film also scooped up prizes in Rotterdam, Monaco and Prague and was screened as part of the official selection for the Muhr Awards at DIFF in 2008.

Every Day is a Holiday, one of 15 submissions selected by the DFC in its first year, went on to win its US$25,000 DIFF Desert Door Work in Progress Award in 2008.

Director Dima El-Horr said DIFF’s contribution to the film’s success was immeasurable. “We will always be grateful to DIFF for its unstinting support over the last two years, and for extending our reach from Lebanon to the world. The Dubai Film Connection provided fertile ground for our film to take root, bear fruit, and nourished us every step of the way. We are very excited by the Toronto opportunity, and encourage all aspiring Arab talent to take advantage of the DIFF initiative.”

The Toronto International Film Festival, among the top five film festivals of the world, described El-Horr as ‘a major new voice in the cinema of the Middle East,’ and Every Day is a Holiday as ‘a striking debut with a strong perspective, smart formal choices and real heart.’ The film screened at TIFF on September 15, 16 and 19, 2009, as part of the festival’s Discovery segment. It will make its European premiere at the Rome Film Festival.

Four other films from DFC 2007, including Palestinian director Raed Andoni’s Fix Me, Egyptian filmmaker Daoud Abdul Sayed’s Messages from the Sea, Iraqi filmmaker Mohamed Al Daradji’s Son of Babylon and Emirati director Ali Mostafa’s The City of Life are completed. Another four are in pre- and post-production. Of the 19 film projects selected for DFC 2008, six are in development stages, four in pre-production and one in post-production.

The Dubai Film Connection offers directors of Levant, Maghreb, Gulf or North African origin more than US$110,000 in seed funds and invaluable industry connections. The co-production market also matches the short-listed director/producer teams with specialists in film production, sales, distribution and funding to further their projects.

The 2009 edition of the Dubai Film Connection will be held from December 11 to 15 during the sixth Dubai International Film Festival.

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