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‘Free Men,’ ‘The Making Of’ and Zindeeq’ win DIFF 2009 Dubai Film Connection Awards

Thu Dec 17,2009

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF 2009) honoured the winners of the Dubai Film Connection (DFC), the seed fund of the festival, aimed at encouraging Arab-origin filmmakers from around the world, to make their cinematic projects a reality.

Zindeeq, the Palestine-UK co-production directed by Michel Khleifi, won the US$25,000 Desert Door DIFF Work in Progress Award, which was presented by Dima Al Ansari, Managing Director, Desert Door.

 The three DIFF Awards, each offering US$25,000, went to Off Frame by Mohanad Yaqubi, produced by Ihab Jadallah; Tilsit, by Hicham Falah, produced by Guillaume de Seille; and Yasmeen by Amin Matalqua and produced by Fadi Sarraf.

The $10,000 Bahrain Film Production Company/DIFF Development Award went to The Making Of by Mahdi Fleifel, produced by Purnima Ramadorai; and Free Men by Ismael Ferroukhi, produced by Stephane Partheany of Pryramide Productions, won the ARTE Prize of €6,000 presented, which was presented by Jerome Clement, President, Arte France.

The international jury who selected the awards comprised Bassam Al Thawadi of Bahrain Film Production Company; Savina Neirotti, Director, Torinofilmlab; and Ellis Driessen of Fortissimo.

Jane Williams, DIFF’s Industry Office director, said the winners were selected from a final short-list of 13 projects, reflecting the diversity of filmmaking talent to be found regionally. DIFF has supported a total of 33 projects to date, with nine completed and six on view at this year’s festival.

“It’s a formula that’s working well,” she said. “With our sponsorship partners including the Producers Network, Cannes, Torinofilmlab and European Audio-visual Entrepreneurs (EAVE), we are bringing the best industry practice to the region, and taking producers and projects to the international marketplace as well.”

This year the Producers Network, Cannes Film Festival too had extended their partnership with the DFC to include five invitations to producers attending the DFC. Apart from the three producers attached to the DIFF-award winning projects, two new producers were on board with the Producers Network this year– Lara Fadel and Talal Al-Muhanna - swelling the overall number to five.

The Dubai Film Connection, this year, received 127 submissions from Arab-origin filmmakers around the world, breaking all previous entry records. The majority of the submissions were from Lebanon, Palestine, France, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia, representing the diversity of the Arab world.

The strong response followed the international inroads cut by DFC-driven movies such as Every Day is a Holiday, Amreeka and The One Man Village. The Dubai Film Connection offers directors of Levant, Maghreb, Gulf or North African origin more than US$110,000 in seed funds and invaluable industry connections. The co-production market also matches the short-listed director/producer teams with specialists in film production, sales, distribution and funding to further their projects.

DIFF 2009 was held in association with Dubai Studio City. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah were the principal sponsors of DIFF and the event was supported by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture).

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