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Dubai Film Festival, Dubai Studio City Join Forces in Tribute to Arab Filmmaker Moustapha Akkad

Sun Dec 11,2005

Dubai, December 11, 2005: The second Dubai International Film Festival has joined hands with Dubai Studio City to pay tribute to the Syrian-born producer-director Moustapha Akkad, widely regarded as one of the most talented filmmakers to emerge from the Middle East. Akkad, whose success transcended Arab national borders and the East-West schism, was the driving force behind such memorable films as The Message (Al Risalah), a film about the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and early Islam; the 1981 film Lion of the Desert, about Libyan anti-colonial fighter Omar Mukhtar; and the popular Halloween horror series. Akkad and his daughter were among the victims of the Jordan hotel suicide-bomb attacks last month. Dubai Studio City administrators and DIFF organizers reacted quickly to the news of his untimely death with a promise to host a tribute to his life and works at the upcoming Dubai International Film Festival, and that tribute has now taken shape. “Moustapha Akkad was a living example of bridging cultures through film, and we in the film and production community feel his loss very deeply,” said Dr. Amina Al Rustamani, Executive Director of Media at the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone (TECOM). “In both his personal and professional life, he made it his mission to introduce Islam accurately and comprehensively to the West. He left behind a legacy to inspire us all, and he is entirely deserving of this tribute amidst a film festival dedicated to building cultural bridges.” Festival Director and CEO Neil Stephenson also praised the Syrian-born American citizen and the decision to host such a tribute at DIFF. “The tribute panel will not only show our international guests what Arab filmmakers are capable of, but what it means to truly bridge cultures and to connect people on different sides of the world through film,” Stephenson said. “Moustapha Akkad deserves credit for bringing favorable images of Islam and the Arab world to the West, and the festival has a great interest in doing this also.” Some of the leading lights of the Arab film industry will join Akkad’s peers and colleagues in a panel discussion focusing on his life and times, and his contribution to bridging the gap between the Arab world and the West through film. The panel discussion, scheduled for 11 am on Wednesday, December 14, at the Madinat Theatre at the Souk Madinat Jumeirah, will feature high-ranking Syrian stars Duraid Lahham and Mouna Wassef, both close friends of Akkad; Oscar-nominated BAFTA winner sound designer Gerald Humphreys, who worked with Akkad on various productions; long-time collaborator and production associate Nabil Daou; Moustapha Akkad’s son Malek, an established producer and director. The panel will be moderated by film critic, screenwriter and author Mohammed Rouda, a friend of the late producer. Seating is available on a first come, first served basis subject to availability. The second Dubai International Film Festival opens at 8pm on Sunday, December 11, and continues until Saturday, December 17, and includes 98 feature and short films and documentaries. Tickets, and an entire schedule of the Festival films, are also available through the Dubai Film Festival website www.dubaifilmfest.com, or via the DIFF Call Centre on 04-367-6701. The Festival is presented by Dubai Media City and its Founding Sponsors are Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Properties, Emirates, Etisalat and the Madinat Jumeirah – the Arabian Resort. The Festival’s Gold Sponsors are Bin Hendi Enterprises, National Bank of Dubai, Showtime, The Kanoo Group and The Palm Jumeirah; the Silver Sponsors are Filmworks, Motivate Publishing and Sony.

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