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DIFF Reveals Programming for 3rd Run of Festival

Tue Nov 28,2006

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) today announced the line-up of programming for the festival’s third and largest year yet, with a comprehensive array of international cinema and a large line-up of Arabic films from the Gulf States, the Levant, and North Africa. In all, there are 115 films from 47 different countries at the festival, of which 38 are UAE premieres.

Abdulhamid Juma, Chairman of DIFF, stated, “We are featuring more films this year than ever before, and we have cast the net wide geographically as well. Festival guests will be able to see a Moroccan film in the morning, an African film in the afternoon, and a Hollywood offering in the evening. What we are most proud of, however, is the extent of our Arabic programming, which we will continue to expand as part of our mandate to stimulate Arabic filmmaking. We are off to a flying start.”

The festival’s main program is divided into two sections. The first, In Competition, showcases the films competing for the Muhr Awards for Excellence in Arab Film, in which AED 1.2 million (US $325 000) in prize money is at stake. Ten films will compete in each of three categories: narrative features, documentaries and shorts, and none have been screened in the UAE before. Several directors that will be featured have won awards internationally, such as documentarian Mai Masri, who will screen her new documentary, Beirut Diaries: Truth, Lies and Videos.

The second section, Out of Competition, features both Arab and international programming.  The two dedicated Arab programs include Arabian Nights, featuring works of some of the world’s best Arab filmmakers, and Emerging Emiratis, showcasing films by UAE nationals. There is also a segment called Mosaic,  featuring films that did not exactly fit program specifications, but that programmers felt were too powerful to be left out of the festival.

The Emerging Emiratis programme will showcase works by UAE national filmmakers, a category that looks set to expand, according to Masoud Amralla al Ali, DIFF’s Artistic Director of Arabic Programming: “We are dedicated to developing the film industry in this region, and honing the talents of the filmmakers that are up-and-coming. They should think of DIFF as their home festival, the place where their work is introduced to the world. There are two UAE films in this year’s Muhr Awards programming, and if we continue at this pace, that number will increase dramatically in coming years.”

The rest of the Out of Competition programming fits into nine separate categories (see highlights of the Out of Competition sections in the Appendix, at the end of this document), including the Children’s section, which is new to DIFF 2006:

• Operation Cultural Bridge features films that mend the rift in cross-cultural understanding between the Muslim world and the West. One of these films will be selected to close the festival in a special gala screening on 17 December, 2006.

• Café Europe comprises films from across Europe’s major film production centers such as the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Spain.

• Insights from Asia will feature cinema from the culturally rich capitals of the Far East including Japan, China, Philippines and South Korea.

• Cinema from the Subcontinent features films from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, including Bollywood.

• Destination Documentary will present the best documentaries of 2005-2006, projecting core human values that surface in contemporary turbulent settings.

• In Honor of Africa will focus on this extremely diverse continent.

• Contemporary World Cinema features a wide cross-section of work from filmmakers from all corners of the globe including Romania, Russia, Iran and Argentina.

• Cinema for Children is new to DIFF in 2006, and will show films from Finland, Denmark, Germany and the United States, which will appeal to children of diverse nationalities.

• DIFF Salutes presents and celebrates the work of a distinguished actor, director or producer from each of three cinema strongholds: Asia, the Arab World, and Hollywood. This year’s honourees are Shah Rukh Khan, Nabil El-Maleh, and Oliver Stone.

Simon Field, Artistic Director, International Programming, said, “Our programming roster for 2006 truly reflects a representative sampling of the best in cinema today. It is an opportunity for festival goers to touch on the experience of people leading different lives in disparate places around the globe through the medium of cinema, which is true to DIFF’s motto, ‘Bridging Cultures, Meeting Minds.’”

In addition to the programming, there will be a variety of workshops, panels and gatherings of industry professionals. The festival is in its third year, and will run from December 10 to 17, 2006.

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