Tue Oct 14,2008

Massive Interest in Competition for Both Arab and AsiaAfrica Muhr Awards Categories

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) has broken submission records with record numbers of excellent international films submitted for review, representing 111 countries. The biggest numbers were recorded in the Muhr Awards, which will debut the new AsiaAfrica competition at this year’s festival.

A total of 1800 films were submitted to DIFF for review. The programming team tirelessly screened all the submissions and found 400 films that were eligible for its now-iconic Muhr Awards for Excellence in Arab Cinema, which is an increase of 33% from last year’s submissions. The newly introduced AsiaAfrica segment, dedicated to launching the careers of filmmakers from emerging markets, received nearly 450 entries in its first year further proving the need for the dedicated segment. The Muhr Awards boast some of the most generous cash prizes among international film festivals, totaling almost USD 576, 000.

Masoud Amralla Al Ali, DIFF’s Artistic Director, said: “The high number of entries represents a stellar first year for the new AsiaAfrica segment of the Muhr Awards, as well as steady growth in the Arab Cinema segment. We are proud that our efforts to stimulate the growth of filmmaking in the region and in developing markets are being met with such enthusiasm. DIFF is committed to raising visibility for emerging talent and we are confident that viewers will be able to discover hidden gems from around the world at this year’s festival.”

The Muhr Awards sees participation from all over the Arab world, as well as Africa and Asia. The Arab Cinema competition saw entries from 35 countries, with Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco,  Palestine and Lebanon representing a strong majority.  The AsiaAfrica competition received entries from 33 countries where entries came mainly from Iran, Turkey, India,  China and Thailand.

The festival has seen an increase in feature films entered in the competition, which represents a maturing process in the market. Short films were well represented in both segments. The AsiaAfrica segment witnessed many documentary submissions.

With such an overwhelming number of entries for both the Arab and AsiaAfrica Muhr categories,  the fifth edition of DIFF looks to surpass expectations and to add to its accolades of films chosen and recognized by other competitions.

The fifth edition of DIFF will run from December 11 to 18, 2008.

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