350-Strong Army of Volunteers Thrilled to Support Behind-the-Scenes Operations at Dubai Film Festiva

Sat Dec 17,2005

Dubai, December 17, 2005: Students, professionals and budding actors from as far away as Germany and London and all corners of the UAE will wrap up their week-long volunteer efforts behind the scenes of the second Dubai International Film Festival today, as the Festival draws to a close.

The diverse 350-strong army of volunteers, including students from many of the UAE’s universities and colleges and executives from a cross-section of professions, had only two things in common: a passion for film, and a strong desire to be ambassadors for and involved in one of the most exciting events in the Middle East. Distributed over all Festival venues and access points from the theatres to the airport, the volunteers took charge of a variety of responsibilities, from greeting Festival guests on arrival into the country to fine-tuning seating and operations at DIFF screening venues.

None of the volunteers have received any payment - the only remuneration being in the form of vouchers to see Festival films after working hours – but that has not dampened their interest. “Nothing can be more indicative of the strength of a commitment as working hard for free,” said Ron Koperdraad, Director of the Festival’s Human Capital. “Our volunteers are staffing all the Festival sites at the Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai Media City amphitheatre, Mall of the Emirates and our airport reception desk, and they are all proud to be part of the Festival, and acting as ambassadors for it and Dubai.”

The volunteers include a German film enthusiast, returning for his second Festival, a volunteer from London, an Al Ain-based professor and scores of UAE national and expatriate school and university students from Wellington International, Jumeirah College, Dubai American Academy, Westminster Academy, Zayed University, Dubai Men’s College and Sharjah University. Dale Taylor, a lecturer at the UAE University in Al Ain, will put in her last day as a volunteer for the DIFF press office today.

Unlike a number of volunteers who share a background in the film industry, Taylor’s background is completely in education, but that hasn’t stopped her from enjoying every moment of the Festival. “I strongly believe that film has a power to educate that teachers may not have,” Taylor said. “Particularly in a place like Dubai with so many different cultures, this is a great opportunity.”

Taylor, who has volunteered at film festivals in Canada and Germany prior to DIFF, said Dubai is easily comparable to those major festivals for its positive atmosphere, commitment to filmmakers and quality of cinema offerings. Retention levels are also high among Festival volunteers – at least 20 volunteers from the inaugural Festival last year were taken on as paid staff this year, including Germany-based Berry Manders. Mander, currently a production assistant for DIFF’s Human Capital division, was thrilled to return to Dubai and see a larger, stronger and more diverse Festival this time around.

The second Dubai International Film Festival ends on Saturday, December 17, with 15 screenings at venues around Dubai. DIFF 2005 showcased 98 films from 46 countries. The Festival is presented by Dubai Media City and its Founding Sponsors are Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Properties, Emirates, Etisalat and the Madinat Jumeirah – the Arabian Resort. The Festival’s Gold Sponsors are Bin Hendi Enterprises, National Bank of Dubai, Showtime, The Kanoo Group and The Palm Jumeirah; the Silver Sponsors are Filmworks, Motivate Publishing and Sony.

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