DIFF introduces Europe, India, Africa and North America to the best of Arab filmmaking

Sun Aug 09,2009

More than 30 films from across the Gulf, Levant, Maghreb and Egypt screened to tens of thousands around the world

Bint Mariam _stillThe Dubai International Film Festival’s cultural bridges are reaching into four continents this year, taking the best filmmaking from the Gulf, Levant, Maghreb and Egypt to tens of thousands of men, women and children in western and eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.

Film festivals around the world, from the Zanzibar International Film Festival in Tanzania and the Ahmedabad International Film Festival in India to the Taormina festival in Italy, have included record numbers of DIFF films in their repertoire for 2009, delivering on two core Festival goals. In the last two months alone, more than 30 DIFF films, from Palestinian love story Pomegranates and Myrrh and Algerian comedy Masquerades to the UAE drama Bint Mariam, have screened at global festivals.

Commenting on the unprecedented success, DIFF Chairman Abdulhamid Juma said, “Since its inception, the Dubai International Film Festival has strived to provide a global platform for the best Arab product and talent, and to bring the world a little closer by bridging cultures through the universal language of cinema. Today, the results of our efforts are evident across the globe, and we are delighted to play a part in achieving these noble goals.”

Around the world, film festivals are widely regarded as the most effective springboard into the public consciousness, offering unconventional and experiential fare that allows viewers to understand different cultures and remote events without leaving home.

DIFF, Juma added, will not rest on its laurels. In addition to participating in Italy’s Messina Film Festival and the Golden Apricot International Film Festival of Yerevan, Armenia, this month, Festival films from Algeria, Morocco, Palestine, Egypt, the UAE and other GCC countries will be screened in the Levant and Australia later this year.

Pomegranates and Myrrh_castAward-winning Emirati filmmaker Ali Mostafa, whose film Under the Sun screened in Armenia and Italy, said the Festival’s international reach and commitment to regional talent filmmakers offer a unique and powerful opportunity for Arab filmmakers young and old.

“Gulf filmmakers have never had an opportunity like this, to share our work and our culture with audiences and film industries around the world, and to learn from seasoned professionals” he said. “I believe DIFF’s initiative on our behalf will create better filmmakers in the region and improve understanding of the Arab world.”

Mostafa has been associated with DIFF since 2005, receiving the DIFF Muhr Award for best Emirati filmmaker in 2007. Mostafa’s feature film The City of Life, the first Emirati film with an established international cast, will debut later this year.

DIFF films have also been very popular at North American festivals this year. At the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival earlier this year, the Lebanese documentary One Man Village, which debuted and won funding at DIFF, was named Best International Feature documentary. Amreeka, a DIFF-funded film, also made its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in the United States.

Other DIFF films selected for international festivals include Adhen and China is Still Far from Algeria, Morocco’s Casanegra, Palestinian films Salt of the Sea and A Space Exodus, and Lebanese feature The North Road. Films from Vietnam, Japan, China and South Korea, winners of the Festival’s Muhr AsiaAfrica competition, are also included in the DIFF selection. Closer to home, DIFF will also screen a selection of films at the Al Ain Municipality and other UAE venues.

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