DIFF unveils new programming team for 2009 edition

Wed Sep 16,2009

Festival’s ‘Cultural Bridge’ theme to be integrated across segments

The Dubai International Film Festival, the definitive film festival of the Middle East, Africa and new Asia, today unveiled its line-up of programmers for its 2009 edition. The team of film selection directors will choose the repertoire for the year, with a focus on integrating the Festival’s core ‘Cultural Bridge’ theme across all festival segments.

DIFF 2009, to be held from December 9 to 16, will include more than a dozen distinct themed segments including Arabian Nights, Gulf Voices, Cinema of the World, Cinema for Children, Cinema of AsiaAfrica, Lifetime Achievement and a diverse selection of Indian films. The competitive Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica programmes will include new documentaries, features and shorts, and the In Focus section will this year highlight cinema from France.

The Festival’s popular ‘Rhythm and Reels’ and Animation elements will also be broadly distributed across the 2009 programme to strengthen the diversity within each segment.

The 2009 programmer line-up includes Sheila Whitaker (Director, International Programme), Nashen Moodley (Director, AsiaAfrica), Philip Cheah (Consultant, AsiaAfrica), Dorothee Wenner (Consultant, Subcontinent programme), Erfan Rashid (Director, Arab Programme), Antonia Carver (Consultant, Arab Programme), Myrna Maakaron (Programmer, Cinema for Children) and Hannah Fisher (Coordinator, Lifetime Achievement). Simon Field remains a consultant to the Festival.

A team of scouts including Suhasini Mani Ratnam and Bina Paul Venugopal (Indian cinema) ; Zeina Sfeir, Iman Al Omrani, Saeed Al Dhaheri and Khalid Al Mahmood (Arab cinema); Hiromi Aihara and Sheldon Kraiser (AsiaAfrica) will assist the programmers.

Masoud Amralla Al Ali, DIFF Artistic Director, will lead the team of veteran film professionals. Al Ali, an accomplished filmmaker and UAE national, said: “The Dubai International Film Festival is recognized around the world for the quality of its programming, and the addition of more professionals with rich backgrounds will raise our standards even higher.”

“This year, we are incorporating the festival’s central theme of ‘Culture Bridge’ in all programmes, instead of limiting these vital culture-bridging films to one section alone,” he added.

Abdulhamid Juma, Chairman, DIFF, said the new team of programmers is currently finalizing the selection of films for the DIFF 2009 edition. “While several of our programmers build on their accumulated experience in shaping DIFF’s current identity as a global showcase of movies, the new members will bring in innovation and increased cinematic sensibility,” he said.

“Our extremely talented programming team plays a critical role in shaping DIFF’s stature as the leading film festival of the region,” Juma added. “Their caliber is evident not only from our community and industry feedback, but also in the fact that Festival films regularly go on to win the major global film awards including the Academy Awards, BAFTAs and Golden Globes.”

In 2008, the Festival welcomed a record 47,500 visitors and a glittering army of celebrities and showcased 179 films from 66 countries including 18 world premieres. DIFF 2009, slated to run from December 9 to 16, is targeting even greater success, Juma added.

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