Arab films from 7th Dubai International Film Festival ring up success across Europe, Americas, Africa
Sun Apr 03,2011
• DIFF cements reputation as destination for discovery of Middle Eastern cinema with triumphs at Berlinale, Rotterdam, Tribeca, HotDocs, FESPACO
Dubai, UAE; April 03, 2011: At least 11 Arab films – including Emirati, Egyptian, Palestinian, Moroccan and Jordanian films - from the seventh edition of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) have scooped up major successes across Europe, the Americas and Africa within months of premiering in Dubai, cementing the Festival’s reputation as a centre of discovery for Arab, African and Asian cinema.
The Tribeca Film Festival, one of the most prominent in the United States, recently announced its selection of both The Philosopher and Cairo Exit in its world narrative and shorts competitions for its 10th edition next month. Both Cairo Exit, the story of star-crossed lovers in Egypt, and The Philosopher, the Jean Reno-starrer directed by UAE national Abdulla AlKaabi, made their world premieres at DIFF 2010 in December.
AlKaabi, director of The Philosopher, said: “The Dubai International Film Festival was the starting point for a long journey for The Philosopher. The success and the attention it grabbed at DIFF 2010 gave us the courage and belief that maybe it’s worth submitting this film to other prestigious film festivals around the world. We owe it to DIFF for supporting us from day one to go further with this film, and look forward to a future of success with the Festival.”
More recently, Hot Docs, the largest documentary film festival, conference and market in North America, picked Zelal, the winner of the International Federation of Film Critics’ (FIPRESCI) documentary prize at DIFF 2010 , Muhr Arab Documentary first prize winner This Is My Picture When I Was Dead, and Muhr AsiaAfrica winner Koundi and the National Thursday for its 2011 showcase.
The 61st Berlin International Film Festival last month selected UAE director Khalid Al-Mahmood’s Sabeel as part of its official programme. The film, focusing on two young boys living with their grandmother in the mountains of the UAE, was the only Gulf film and the first Emirati film selected for the prestigious global festival. The film won second prize in the DIFF Muhr Emirati competition. Mokhtar, a DIFF 2010 Muhr Arab short film about a young Moroccan goatherd and his pet owl, also screened at Berlin.
678 (Six, Seven, Eight), the award-winning drama focusing on sexual harassment in Egypt, also screened to favourable reviews at the Rotterdam Film Festival last month, following its red carpet world premiere in Dubai in December. The film, directed by Mohamed Diab and starring Ahmad Al Fishawi, Bushra, Maged El Kidwany and Nelly Karim, scooped Muhr awards for Best Actor and Best Actress. 678 was also selected for the 40th New Directors/New Films Festival in New York, and will screen at the European Film Festival next month.
Fortissimo Films, the multinational production, sales and distribution company that acquired international (non Middle East) rights to 678 at the Dubai Film Market in December, said the film has struck a chord with audiences around the world.
Nicole Mackey, Executive Vice President, Sales and Acquisitions, Fortissimo Films, said: “People want to hear the stories behind today’s Egypt and see the real lives of people across the Middle East, and 678’s success is a prime example. In the few months since we discovered the film in Dubai, sales have been buoyant and include prominent independent distributors in France (Pyramide), Spain (Golem), Portugal (Lusomundo), and Brazil (Imovision) with other territories are about to close.”
For companies like Fortissimo, the Dubai International Film Festival is a proven, professional and rich venue for discovery of new and promising talent and content from the greater Middle East, Africa and Asia; and one that continues to improve.”
Other DIFF 2010 films going on to global success include Egyptian underground art film Microphone, also chosen for at the 40th New Directors/New Films Festival in New York; and Nomad’s Home, selected to screen in competition at the 22nd Pan African Film Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), the largest film festival in Africa. The Muhr Arab documentary about a Bedouin social entrepreneur in the Sinai Peninsula made its world premiere in Dubai and is also an Enjaaz project.
The Palestinian documentary Ticket from Azrael will screen at next month’s London Palestine Film Festival, alongside DIFF films This Is My Picture, Fix Me and Zindeeq.
Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Artistic Director of the Dubai International Film Festival, said: “The success of DIFF films in international markets demonstrates the Festival’s ability to serve as a springboard for filmmakers from our region to explore and enter new markets. We are proud to see our films and filmmakers help change perceptions of the Middle East, and to play even a small role in their success.”
The seventh edition of the Dubai International Film Festival screened 157 films from 57 countries, representing a 30 per cent growth from its 2009 edition. DIFF 2010 included 41 world premieres, 13 international premieres, 58 Middle East premieres and 32 Gulf premieres. Nearly half of the films – 70 – were from the Arab world.
The eighth edition of the Dubai International Film Festival will be held from December 7 to 14, 2011. DIFF is held in association with Dubai Studio City. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah, the home of the Dubai International Film Festival, are the principal sponsors of DIFF. The Festival is supported by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.