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Richard Gere to Attend Special Panel on Cross-Cultural Dialogue

Fri Dec 08,2006

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) has announced that American actor and activist Richard Gere will participate in DIFF’s new Operation Cultural Bridge Panel, which will be inaugurated December 15 in the Madinat Theatre at 7:00 pm.

The panel grew out of the Operation Cultural Bridge programming segment, designed to present films that stimulate intercultural dialogue and reconciliation; it will be moderated by Riz Khan of Al Jazeera International, the pioneering journalist who was the first to broadcast from the annual Haj in Mecca for CNN in 1998.

Abdulhamid Juma, Chairman of DIFF, stated; “Film is the most evocative medium we have.  What better way do we have to grapple with our most pressing problems than through this universal language? What better platform for direct contact and dialogue than Dubai, the crossroads between East and West? Mr. Gere’s active sponsorship of a number of causes in our region and around the world made him a natural choice for this important panel.”

Panelists include Hollywood maverick director Oliver Stone, a recipient of the 2006 DIFF Salutes trophy; Julia Bacha, co-writer and co-director of Encounter Point, a film which presents people from both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide who refuse to give in to hatred and vengeance despite grievous loss; Maji-da Abdi, a consultant of the African Union on African Cinema and producer of the film Bamako;  Mohammed Khan, legend of Egyptian cinema; and Ronnie Screwvala, founder and CEO of UTV, recognized as an undisputed leader in the Asia-wide media industry.

Panelists will be asked to discuss issues such as media violence, the responsibility of the artist in the world, cultural stereotypes found in cinema, and how film can be used as an instrument of peace.

Neil Stephenson, DIFF’s Chief Executive Officer and Festival Director, stated, “this is a flagship panel, since it fits so perfectly with our mandate, ‘Bridging Cultures, Meeting Minds.’ As it is a public event, we hope that DIFF guests take advantage of this opportunity to hear some of the most important issues facing our world today debated by artists and key media figures from around the world. I am sure the panel will be one of the highlights of DIFF 2006.”

The Operation Cultural Bridge panel will take place on December 15, at 7:00 pm, in the Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

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