Tue Jul 08,2008

In recognition of Arab cinema’s contribution to World Cinema, BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), in association with the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) will celebrate Arab cinema with BAFTA GOES TO THE ARAB WORLD, a 4-day event to be held in London from Friday 11 to Monday 14 July.

This prestigious event will showcase some of the best recent releases from Arab filmmakers who are making an impact on world cinema and achieving international recognition.

The selection includes films that have won prominent awards at DIFF, such as the “Captain Abu Raed”, which received the Best Actor and “Under the Bombs”, which took the Gold Muhr at the annual Muhr Awards for Excellence in Arab Cinema. Both films went onto win other awards at the Sundance and Venice film festivals, respectively. The event will also introduce UK audiences to an Emirati short, “The Water Guard”, screened at DIFF 2007. Directed by Walid Al Shehhi, the film celebrates birth in a time of drought, which highlights the Gulf as a new destination for cultural creativity. Most of the films are UK Premieres.

Abdulhamid Juma, DIFF Chairman, stated: “Since its inception, DIFF has played a pivotal role in creating a cinematic movement in the Arabian Gulf and supporting filmmaking talent in the larger Arab world. The festival has brought the best of international cinema to the Arab region and provided a global platform for Arab filmmakers. We believe that cinema has proved to be a powerful medium for creating better understanding and wider acceptance of other peoples, and we support efforts to bridge the divides between the East and the West.

“In the last 100 years, Arab cinema has flourished as a tool of creative expression within a fascinating milieu. Through their films, Arab filmmakers have continued the ancient Arab art of storytelling, and have captivated audiences around the world. We are confident that BAFTA GOES TO THE ARAB WORLD will showcase the talents of established and upcoming talent in the Arab region, and will offer a compelling insight into the lives of the Arab people.”

David Parfitt, Chairman of the Academy said “We are delighted to partner with the Dubai International Film Festival who have now become an established part of the festival circuit since their launch in 2004. In our collaboration over this prestigious event, we will showcase some of the best recent releases from filmmakers who defy simple categorisation. A continuation of Arab film weekends previously held at BAFTA in partnership with the Zenith Foundation, it recognises Arab cinema’s viable contribution to the industry and embodies the Academy’s ongoing commitment to quality world cinema.

Despite award-winning critical success across the decades, Arab productions have often struggled to find a broader international audience. Despite these challenges, Arab filmmakers are asserting their right to express the complex and diverse tapestry of their societies more personally, directly and unapologetically than ever before. We appreciate and applaud their persistence of vision.”

Films from Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and the Emirates will be screened, and audiences will be able to partake in Q&A sessions with directors, as well as a talk charting the 100-year history of Arab cinema.  Filmmakers from the UK will hear the benefits of filming in the Arab Region, in particular in Tunisia, Jordan, the Emirates and Morocco, and an Industry Networking Event will bring together Arab filmmakers and UK distributors to promote further commercial releases of Arab films in Europe.

The fifth edition of the Dubai International Film Festival will run from December 11 to 18, 2008.

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