Wed Nov 05,2008

Showcasing a Strong Emirati Presence

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF)  today announced its lineup of cinema from around the Gulf as part of the ‘Gulf Voices’, highlighting the best and brightest contributions by local and regional filmmakers, in line with the festival’s mandate of promoting regional cinema to a worldwide audience.

The programme is an addition to the previous Emirati lineup, it opens the door to participation from other Gulf Countries, which have started to follow the UAE’s footsteps in short film production. This programme has always been a main attraction for the festival audiences.

The films, short and documentary projects, represent talent from the UAE, Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait,  Oman and Saudi Arabia, and most premiered at April’s inaugural Gulf Film Festival.

Masoud Amralla Al Ali, DIFF’s Artistic Director, said: “DIFF aims to provide the international community with a platform to view the best cinema from our region, providing Arab   Gulf filmmakers with an opportunity to receive recognition for outstanding work, and to encourage production of films in the region. We felt the need to expand the segment to invite works from regional filmmakers as it will be interesting as a viewer to have a birds-eye view of the Gulf region through Khaleeji cinema, since although each country is subtly different, we share various cultural and political similarities.”

The UAE leads in the number of entries with 5 films, ranging from short to documentary projects. Animated short “Hammer & Nails” by Hamad Alawar philosophically addresses the war between the powerful and the not so mighty, proving that might is not always right; Khalid Al Mahmood’s “Bint Al Nokhitha” deals with the relationship between a grandson and his grand mother, and the enduring power of storytelling; Saeed al Dhaheri’s “The Rescue” is about the adventures of a man stuck in the desert.

UAE documentaries “Mountain Sheik” and “Mission of Hope” tackle two very different subject matter. The first, by Naser Al Yaqoobi, captures the essence of men in the UAE, while Asma Ahmad and Aisha Mohammed al Muhairi’s searing documentary looks into the life of drug addicts who have served a prison sentence and their relationship with society.

The other Gulf countries are also represented in the segment. Oman’s Dawood and Yasir al Kiyumi bring a short thriller, “Realism Beats,”  about two young boys on a cliff. Their story skews the line between observer and observed. From Kuwait,  ‘Paradoxes’ by Meqdad al Kout explores the issue of social deformity. Saudi Arabia’s entry ‘Rain (Matar)’ explores loss and gain, by Abdullah al-Eyaf.  Qatar’s Khalid al Mahmoud brings his ‘Terrorism-Tourism,’ in which a young Western married couple has a window into differing perspectives on international events. Meanwhile, ‘Personal Calendar,’ by Basheer al Majid, explores sectarian divisions in Iraq and politicians’ exploitation of political agendas for personal gain.

In addition to the screenings, DIFF will also honour three oustanding Emirati talents with rewards for their contribution to the emerging industry in the UAE. Their nomination does not depend on them having a project that is participating in DIFF that year The awards will be given at the Muhr Awards ceremony, and will comprise the categories of ‘Best Emirati Talent,’ ‘Best Emirati Director,’ and ‘Best Emirati Female Director.’

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

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