Sat May 17,2008

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) today announced dates for the second run of the Dubai Film Connection (DFC), the first feature and documentary film co-production market in the UAE, scheduled to take place on 13-17 of December 2008.

Building on the success of DFC from last year, DIFF has also announced an increase in the prize money for the three winning projects, raised to USD 25,000 from the existing USD 15,000 each. DFC in its first year received recommendations from 107 filmmakers from 18 different countries.

Films Distribution-France, Fortissimo Films-Hong Kong/Netherlands, Rhombus Media Inc.-Canada, Cinetic Media-USA, Killer Films-USA,  The World Cinema Fund-Germany, ART-Saudi Arabia, Showtime Arabia-UAE, Arte Cinema-France, Channel Four-UK, BBC Films–UK,  Al Jazeera–Qatar, SBS–Australia, MBC–UAE, Brightlight Pictures–Canada, Insituto Luce–Italy, Phars Film–UAE, Front Row Films–UAE and Max Film–Canada were amongst some of the prestigious names that attended DFC in 2007.

The three winning projects from 2007 are Amreeka, directed by Cherien Dabies and Produced by Christina Piovesan from First Generation Films. The film co-produced by Al-Zain Al Sabah from Eagle Vision Media Group KSCC, is in pre-production and starts shooting early June.

Showtime Arabia has confirmed their participation towards the project. Marc-Antoine d’Halluin, CEO-Showtime Arabia said, “We are very proud to be associated with the production of Amreeka, and believe that this story will help in bridging some of the misunderstandings between the Middle East and the Western world. From our perspective this is where cinema plays its most noble and essential role”.

One Man Village directed by Simon El Habre and produced by Jad Abi Khalil and Irit Neihardt from MEC Films has begun filming and is expected to be completed by the end of 2008. Man Without A Cellphone directed by Sameh Zoabi and produced by Amir Harel of Lama Films, Christoph Hahnheiser from Black Forest Films GmbH and Marie Gutmann of Meroe Films has successfully managed to raise about 50 percent of the total budget of USD 1.5 million and is scheduled to go into pre production in 2008.

DIFF in 2007 entered into a strategic alliance with the prestigious Cannes Producers Network by offering the producers of the winning DFC 07 projects complimentary registration.  This year the Producers Network have committed to providing the same facility for the winners of Dubai Film Connection in December 2008.

In addition to the above, the DFC in 2007 also included a prize from Arte France Cinema, presented to director Raed Andoni’s Fix Me. Produced by Palmyre Badinier, the film is scheduled to start shooting in Palestine this summer. Furthering this association, the prize money has been increased to 6,000 Euros for DIFF 2008 and the award will be known as Prix ARTE des Relations Internationales (International Relations ARTE Prize).

Michel Reilhac, Executive Director for Cinema and Head of Film Acquisitions, ARTE FRANCE CINEMA, and André de Margerie, Director of International Releations,  ARTE FRANCE said, “ Following on the success of last years collaboration with the Dubai Film Connection we are pleased to announce an increase in our support by raising our prize to €6000. The “International Relations ARTE Prize” will be
presented to a project by a filmmaker from the Middle East.  With this award we are demonstrating our commitment and support of productions from this part of the world. The grant will be awarded to a project/filmmaker whose originality, personal writing style and motivation are exceptional. ”

Shivani Pandya, Managing Director of DIFF,  stated: “In its third year of operations, the DIFF Industry Office has widened its base. There was an overwhelming response to the Office’s events and networking opportunities last year. I am very proud that 25 per cent of the projects at the DFC last year are now in pre-production, and that we are able to raise our production grants and continue this valuable initiative for another year. Over the next few months many more projects are likely to go into production”

“The Dubai Film Connection Co-Production market is committed to bridging cultures by bringing international film professionals into contact with the Arab filmmaking community. This year is going to be the best ever from an industry perspective”.

The DFC is open for submissions from mid-may with the deadline for applications set for 4th of August 2008. Short listed projects will be announced in October. For more information and selection criteria, please visit the Festival

The Dubai International Film Festival will run from December 11 to 18, 2008.

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