Sun Nov 23,2008

Expanded Offerings, New Venue and More Industry Programmes Top Agenda for 2008

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) officially inaugurated its fifth season today, unveiling its milestone version of Dubai’s favourite cultural event and one that is increasingly prominent on the world stage.

Festival Chairman Abdulhamid Juma said: “In 2008, we will celebrate with Dubai cinema fans, international visitors, and film industry figures as we mark our fifth year with 181 films from 66 different countries from the Arab World and across the globe. In our fifth year of ‘Building Cultures, Meeting Minds,’ we would like to thank the UAE for supporting us so warmly and inspiring us to work harder each year to bring forth an event that is worthy of our supporters.”

Masoud Amralla al Ali, Artistic Director and Director General of the Competition, stated: “The diversity of films has increased at DIFF this year due to the addition of the new Muhr AsiaAfrica competition, which has added films from unexpected markets like Pakistan and Afghanistan to the mix, in addition to award-winning cinema from Japan, Turkey and Iran.  DIFF has always had an international outlook and now our screenings will span the globe in an unprecedented range of offerings.”

To celebrate the milestone fifth edition, DIFF will present three commemorative projects: Focus 2008, an industry booklet in collaboration with the Marché du Film- Festival de Cannes. In addition to the information on world film market trends, DIFF has commissioned the Nielsen Company to include a dedicated segment on emerging trends in the Arab world from the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia;  a collectors DVD of 8 Emirati films screened at DIFF over the last four years;  and a limited-edition book celebrating the golden years of Egyptian Cinema.

Shivani Pandya, DIFF’s Managing Director, added: “This year we have integrated new elements to make our initiatives stronger and further our mandate of promoting Arab cinema. DIFF is a meeting ground for international filmmakers that is increasingly respected around the world, and we hope to engender fruitful relationships between thriving film cultures.”

The themes of tolerance and world peace are taken up in the Cultural Bridge panel, at which a gathering of distinguished guests will explore the call for dialogue expressed in DIFF’s credo, “Bridging Cultures, Meeting Minds.” This year’s panel will be comprised of Canadian journalist Cameron Bailey, co-director of the Toronto Film Festival; Yasmina Khadra (the pen name of Algerian novelist Mohammed Moulessehoul); Jamaican-American singer, musician and social activist Harry Belafonte; Ethiopian-American filmmaker Haile Gerima; and Indian-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta.

Extending the Building Bridges credo, Cinema Against AIDS Dubai will enjoy its second year at DIFF under the patronage of HRH Princess Haya, Wife of the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai. The glamourous dinner auction last year raised USD 3 million for AmfAr, the world’s most prominent AIDS and HIV research and public policy advocacy group. The event will be feted by a number of A-list celebrities such as Goldie Hawn, Salma Hayek, Laura Linney and Preity Zinta.

Audiences will be pleasantly surprised at modifications to the programming roster: to complement the offerings of the new Muhr AsiaAfrica competition, a full programme called Cinema of AsiaAfrica has been introduced, as well as a full programme dedicated to eye-catching animation works from around the world.

Most children love animation, and will be given the chance to create their own short animated film in a special 3-day workshop by international experts that will teach children in the craft. Continuing to develop DIFF’s educational mandate, DIFF 2008 will also screen one-minute videos by adolescents who participated in a recent workshop with UNICEF’s oneminutesjr. initiative. This international programme seeks to give youth the tools express themselves on issues of relevance to adolescents globally.

Industry guests will also find new activities at DIFF 2008: the Industry Office, now in its third year, will build on the success of its Dubai Film Connection. Half of last year’s 15 projects are in or near production stage, having netted funds from the initiative. 2008 will see a new roster of 18 productions paired with international funders and mentors. In addition to a series of networking platforms for cinema professionals and a 5-day producer’s workshop, content buyers from around the world will now be able to browse the new Dubai Film Market, an electronic library of regional work that will benefit from the prominence and convenience of this new platform.

To incorporate the increase in festival activity and to provide easier access to the festival for a wider range of Dubai residents, the Grand Cinemas at Dubai Festival City have been added to the Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai Media City and Mall of the Emirates as a screening venue. Box Offices are located at the Grand Festival City, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Madinat Arena, the lobby of the CNN building at Dubai Media   City, and Cinestar at Mall of the Emirates. All Box Offices are open from 10:00 to 22:00 pm, with the exception of the CNN Building, which will open from 10:00 to 18:00. The DIFF Call Centre is open from 9:00 to 18:00 until the festival starts, when it will open until 21:00.

DIFF Ticket prices are: AED 25 for adults and AED 20 for students and children. For Gala screenings, tickets are AED 80 and AED 50 for adults and children, however children’s attendance at Gala films is limited to the Cinema for Children Gala screening of Seven of Daran.  For all other galas, audience members must be above age 16.. There are several competitive package deals for ticket prices—viewers can consult the festival’s website at for further details on online ticket sales and box office opening date.

DIFF 2008 will run from December 11 to 18;  Principal Sponsors are Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Pearl,  Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah.

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