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DUBAI FILM CONNECTION SET FOR ANOTHER MATCHMAKING SEASON

Sat Nov 22,2008

Co-Production Market Spurred 8 New Productions From Last Year’s DIFF

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) has unveiled the lineup of new projects it will nurture in this year’s Dubai Film Connection (DFC), an invitation-only co-production market running from the 13 to 17 December with the mandate of bringing international film professionals into contact with Arab filmmakers.

In 2007, DFC selected 15 projects from all regions of the Arabic-speaking world as well as Canada,  United States, France, Germany,  Spain, and United Kingdom.  5 projects have already completed filming and a further 3 scheduled to go into production before end of the year.

Shivani Pandya DIFF’s Managing Director, stated:  “It is incredible that after our first year, we are able to state that over half of our projects have been or are in production. Clearly the quality of the projects impressed the international professionals in attendance, and DIFF’s aim of extending the platform for showcasing Arab talent was highly successful with this program.”

“This year, we received 108 applications representing 25 nations throughout the globe, including a significant increase of submissions from the Maghreb from first-time filmmakers as well as those who already have three to four productions behind them. Of the 18 projects we have selected, we are looking forward to matchmaking another successful series of films.”

The DFC prizes and awards have been increased for 2008 from USD 15,000 to 25, 000; Arte return to DFC this year with the newly renamed International Relations Award increased to €6,000. Producers Network continue their invaluable association and support as well, with producers of the 3 DFC winning projects invited to attend the prestigious 2009 Cannes Producers Network.

The 2007 projects that were greenlighted are: The One Man Village, directed by 2007 DFC Award winner Simon El Habre,  screening in the Muhr Awards documentary competition; Amreeka,  directed by Cherien Dabis, also a 2007 DFC winner, which is in post-production; Every Day is a Holiday, by Dima El Horr,  also in post-production; Fix Me, directed Raed Andoni, DFC 2007 Arte Award winner, which has just completed principal photography;  and Port of Memory by Kamal Al Jafari, currently in production in Jaffa.

2008 DFC projects are varied in theme and origin. From newly emerging film markets, Hejaz Kar by Oday Rasheed originates from Iraq,  and Wajda, by Haifaa Al Mansour, originates from Saudi Arabia.  From the Maghreb are The Avenue of the Wounded Palm Trees, by Tunisia’s Abdellatif Ben Ammar; Moroccan-French-Belgian co-production Death for Sale, by Faouzi Bensaidi; The Fifth String, by Selma Bargach of Morocco; Ourdia Once Had Sons, byDjamila Sahraoui, whose Barakat won the DIFF Muhr Award in 2006; The Shoe Keeper, by Fabrice Benchaouche of Algeria;

Lebanon also makes a strong showing at the DFC this year, with Barbershop Trinity, by Chadi Zeineddine, whose Falling From Earth showed at DIFF 2007 and who is currently in development on a new project with Disney, pitched at DIFF 2006; Heroes, Lords of Peace by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, directors of I Want to See at this year’s DIFF; The Man Inside, a documentary project from Karim Goury, whose Made in Egypt won a Muhr Award last year; Canadian-Lebanese co-production The Valley of Tears,  by Maryanne Zehil, who directed De Ma Fenetre, Sans Maison at last year’s DIFF; Splits, by Bassem Bre’che; and The Shade of the Walls, by Maher Abi Samra.

September 20, by Ibrahim El Batout, whose Eye of the Sun is also screening at DIFF;  and Oblivion, by Atef Hetata, are Egypt’s entries for this year, and several projects originate from Palestine and Jordan, including: This is My Picture When I was Dead, by Mahmoud Al Massad, director of the festival hit Recycle, from 2007; Passerby, by Kamal Aljafari, a Palestine-Germany co-production; and When I Saw You,  by Palestinian director and poet Annemarie Jacir, whose Salt of This Sea is in the Muhr Awards competition.

The jury for the Dubai Film Connection include:  Tony Cianciotta, T. C. Film Marketing and Distribution (Canada); Marie Therese Guirgis, Marie Therese Guirgis Marketing (USA); and Philippe Reilhac,  Director General, Festival des Trois Continents (France).

The Dubai Film Connection will run for three days during DIFF 2008, which takes place from December 11 to 18.

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