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Festival About DIFF Policies Connect
About DIFF DIFF History
DIFF History

2004
After nearly two years in the making and the combined efforts of more than 400 dedicated staff, DIFF launches featuring 76 films.  13,000 people from around the UAE and the world attended the Festival films during the six-day event. The Festival opened with ‘Le Grand Voyage’ by Ismaël Ferroukhi. Indian director Subhash Ghai, Egyptian director Daoud Abdul Sayed and actor Omar Sharif are presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

2005
The 2nd edition opened with Hany Abu-Assad’s Golden Globe winning film ‘Paradise Now’. More than 30,000 screening admissions were recorded during the week-long event, a 60 percent increase over last year’s attendance. The second edition featured 98 films and open air screenings were launched. Academy Award winning actor Morgan Freeman, Egyptian film star Adel Imam, Indian director Yash Chopra and Syrian American film producer and director, Mustafa Akkad are presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

2006
The Muhr competition launches and emerges as a definitive platform for Arab film, nurturing and rewarding filmmaking excellence in the Arab world. The 3rd edition featured a line-up of 114 films and opened with ‘Bobby’ from Emilio Estevez. The festival reported record ticket sales, doubling its box office take from 2005. American film director Oliver Stone, Syrian film director Nabil Maleh and actor Sharhrukh Khan are presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

2007
As part of its ongoing commitment to stimulate regional film production and trade, DIFF established the Dubai Film Market (formerly known as Industry Office), a unique platform to raise the visibility of Arab cinema. Since then the Dubai Film Market has supported over 240 films bringing films to the screen and gone onto enjoy international acclaim and find new audiences around the world. The Festival showcased 141 films and opened with Michael Clayton directed by Tony Gilroy and starring George Clooney.  Egyptian film director Youssef Chahine, South Korean film director Im kwon-taek  and actor Danny Glover are presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

2008
The 5th edition opened with W from film director Oliver Stone and offered a line-up strong 181 films to DIFF audiences. The prestigious Muhr Awards were expanded to include the new Muhr AsiaAfrica competition to honour the finest talent in film making in Africa and Asia.  Cinetech, a one-of-a-kind digital library that house the festival’s offerings launches giving buyers a first-look at the latest showcase of independent films. The DIFF Young Journalist Award and the FIPRESCI Awards are also introduced. French film director Rachid Bouchareb, American-born British film director Terry Gilliam, Vietnamese film director Tsui Hark and are presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards and American film producer Charles Roven is honoured.

2009
The 6th edition saw the world premiere of the full-fledged UAE production, City of Life from Emirati filmmaker Ali F. Mostafa and the festival opened with Nine from director Rob Marshall. Rhythm and Reels, a series of free outdoor screenings and music events were hosted at JBR, The Walk. DIFF’s post-production support and production funding support programme Enjaaz, launches to provide vital post-production financial support to film projects led by Arab filmmakers and production funding to film projects helmed by Gulf filmmakers. Egyptian actress Faten Hamama and Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan are presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

2010
In 2010 the Industry Office consolidated its activities under the title Dubai Film Market. Dubai watched the glitz and glamour from the red carpet and the opening film The King’s Speech live at DIFF’s outdoor venue, The Walk at JBR. The 7th edition showcased 157 films and presented Academy Award winner Colin Firth with The Variety Award. Lebanese singer and actress Sabah, Malian film director Souleymane Cissé and Academy Award winner Sean Penn are presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

2011
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol debuts to the world as the opening film of the 8th edition. Directed by Oscar® winner Brad Bird, the red carpet was graced by Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton and Anil Kapoor. The Festival showcased a diverse and exciting lineup of 171 films from 56 nations. German film director Werner Herzog, Egyptian actor Gamil Ratib and Indian composer Allah Rakha Rahman are presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

2012
Ang Lee’s Oscar winning Life of Pi opened the 9th edition, the line-up of 158 films and included 50 world premieres. The prestigious IWC Filmmaker Award launched as further boost to the Gulf’s film industry with a cash award of USD 100,000 dedicated to the production of feature-length fiction films. Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett took the role as Head of the Jury and presented the award to Maysoon Pachachi for her project “Nothing Doing in Baghdad”. Egyptian Actor Mahmoud Abdel Aziz  and British filmmaker Michael Apted are presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

2013
The landmark tenth edition opened with Hany Abu-Assad’s Oscar nominated feature Omar and included 174 films from 57 countries, in 43 languages, including over 100 films from the Arab world. During the Festival, the visiting delegation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) announced that DIFF has qualified as a Festival that can contribute short films for Oscar consideration. Academy Award winner and IWC Friend of the Brand, Cate Blanchett, presented the  IWC Filmmaker Award to Waleed Al Shehhi, for his work “Dolphins”. The decennial edition was recorded as DIFF’s most successful year to date, with attendance growing by 150% since the inaugural edition in 2004. Actor Martin Sheen and renowned journalist, film critic and historian Samir Farid are presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

2014
The 11th edition opened with ‘The Theory of Everything’ – the Stephen Hawking biopic from Academy Award winning director James Marsh and starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. The line-up included a total of 118 features, film shorts and documentaries screened over 8 days; including 55 world and international premieres from 48 countries in 34 languages. Golden Globe winner and IWC Brand Ambassador Emily Blunt presented the IWC Filmmaker Award to Abdullah Boushahri for his film “The Water”. DIFF presented its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards to prominent Egyptian actor Nour El-Sherif, for his work on more than 100 films in a career that has spanned almost 5 decades and Indian playback legend Asha Bhosle who has recorded more than 12,000 songs for over 850 films in her 81 years. DIFF’s Muhr Feature competition jury was headed up by Lee Daniels, the multi-talented producer and director of Oscar-winning ‘Precious’ and ‘The Butler’. He was joined by Dutch cinematographer and film director Leonard Retel Helmrich, acclaimed Algerian director Malik Bensmail, Oscar nominated actress Virginia Madsen and Lebanese director and actress Nadine Labaki. The Muhr Short and Emirati competition was led up by film critic and author Mohammed Rouda. He was be joined by Palestinian director Cherien Dabis and Emirati screenwriter Mohammed Hassan Ahmed.

2015
The 12th edition opened with ‘Room’ – Lenny Abrahamson’s Oscar winning suspenseful and heartrending drama based on Emma Donoghue’s 2010 best-selling novel of the same name starring Brie Larson and Jacob Temblay. The line-up included featured 134 feature, documentary and short films, including 55 world premieres and international premieres, 46 MENA premieres, 11 Middle East premieres and 17 GCC premieres. The films, made in more than 40 languages, populated DIFF’s Arab and Emirati competitions, and its out-of-competition segments dedicated to children, the Arab world and cinema from around the globe. The DIFF 2015 selection also showcased an impressive slate of contemporary Arab cinema, with more than 70 biopics, comedies, dramas and love stories from the Arabian Peninsula, Levant and North Africa. More than half of them – 40 – made their global debuts in Dubai; an additional nine were international premieres. The IWC jury was headed by Palestinian film director Hany Abu-Assad and Emirati filmmaker Layla Kaylif won the esteemed award for her film “The Letter Writer”. The award was presented by IWC brand ambassador Dev Patel at the One & Only Royal Mirage in Dubai.

DIFF presented its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards to four individuals to recognize their incredible contribution to cinema. Catherine Deneuve, the grande dame of French cinema, was honoured for her illustrious career which spans almost 60 years and includes more than 120 films. The second award was presented to the legendary actor Naseeruddin Shah who has appeared in over 200 films in a remarkable and diverse career spanning 40 years. The third Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to multi-award winning Egyptian actor Ezzat Al Alayli. With more than 100 diverse and impactful films to his name, the 81-year-old was recognised for his contribution to film and the cultural landscape across the region. Sami Bouajila, the award-winning French-Tunisian actor, was also a recipient, Bouajila is an internationally acclaimed actor whose impressive filmography spans three decades and boasts an incredible forty titles.

Heading up DIFF’s Muhr Feature Competition Jury was Oscar nominated screenwriter, director and producer Deepa Mehta. Best known for her elements trilogy, ‘Fire’ (1996), ‘Earth’ (1998), and ‘Water’ (2005), Mehta has won more than 20 awards in an illustrious career that spans almost 40 years. She was joined by award-winning Australian independent documentary filmmaker Tom Zubrycki, Egyptian Actor Khaled El Nabawy, Emirati poet and filmmaker Nujoom Al-Ghanem and Winner of the IWC Filmmaker Award in 2012, multi-talented Iraqi filmmaker Maysoon Alpachachi

The Muhr Short and Gulf Short Competition Jury was headed up by Oscar-nominated Icelandic director Fridrik Thor Fridriksson. He was joined by Tunisian director Hinde Boujemaa and Emirati director and producer Ali F. Mostafa.

The Muhr Emirati Competition Jury was headed up by the talented double Oscar winning Danish producer Kim Magnusson. He was joined by renowned Kuwaiti journalist Abdul Sattar Naji and Dr Hessa Lootah, the first Emirati female television director who was honoured by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai at the UAE Pioneers Award 2015, for her contributions to the UAE’s success.

2016
The 13th edition opened with the international premiere of the tense and topical political thriller ‘Miss Sloane’ directed by John Madden starring Jessica Chastain.

DIFF topped previous records in its 13th edition, seeing over 60,000 admissions and over 4,000 registered industry professionals and media from around the world reveling in the thrill of cinematic excellence during the eight-day event.

The line-up presented 156 films from 55 countries and included an astonishing 57 world premieres and international premieres, 73 MENA premieres, 12 Middle East premieres and 9 GCC premieres.

The films, crafted in more than 44 languages, populate DIFF’s Arab and Emirati competitions, and its out-of-competition segments dedicated to children, the Arab world, Virtual Reality and cinema from around the globe. With 18 Galas and 16 Special Presentations announced, Q&As and special appearances from a stellar lineup of industry talent and the spotlight firmly on Oscar hopefuls as well as promising Arab talent, the stage is set for another sparkling eight-day celebration of the very best in cinema.

True to the level of talent on display at the Dubai International Film Festival, the films from its 13th edition have won nine Golden Globe Awards, nine BAFTA awards and received 30 Oscar nominations.

The IWC jury was headed by Palestinian actor Ali Suliman and the fifth IWC Filmmaker Award to Abdullah Hassan Ahmed from the United Arab Emirates for his project “Sunrise” during the IWC “For The Love of Cinema” gala event at the One & Only Royal Mirage in Dubai.

The 13th edition bestowed three prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards, to the American film icon Samuel L. Jackson, the legendary Indian actress Rekha and acclaimed French Lebanese composer Gabriel Yared for their incredible contribution to cinema.

Winning the Best Director in the Muhr Emirati category was Yaser Alneyadi for his film ‘Shrimp’, winner of the Best Emirati Feature went to ‘Only Men go to the Grave’ directed by Abdulla Al Kaabi, whilst ‘Mamsous’ directed by Shatha Masoud was named Best Muhr Emirati Short. In the Muhr Shorts category, Special Jury Prize went to Mounia Akl for ‘Submarine’ and the Best Muhr Short went to director Mehdi M. Barsaoui for ‘We Are Just Fine Like This’. In the Muhr Gulf Short category, Best Muhr Gulf Short went to Bader Alhomoud for ‘The Bliss of Being No One’, and Mohammed Alholayyil was awarded the Special Jury Prize for his film ‘300KM’.

The Muhr Feature category saw Eliane Raheb awarded the Special Jury Prize for her feature ‘Those Who Remain’, while Maher Abi Samra was presented with the Best Muhr Non-Fiction Feature prize for ‘A Maid for Each’, and winner of the Best Muhr Fiction Feature was handed to Hussein Hassan for ‘The Dark Wind’. Best Director was presented to Mohammed Hammad for his outstanding film ‘Withered Green’, while Julia Kassar took home Best Actress for her work in ‘Tramontane’ and Ali Sobhi took home Best Actor for ‘Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim’. Darin Sallam was awarded the Ministry of Interior Award, along with the prize of USD 100,000, for ‘Best Societal Screenplay’.

Following the Awards, the Madinat Arena Red Carpet was one with The Force as costumed fans flocked to ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, directed by Gareth Edwards.
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