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Heralded by Variety magazine as one of the world’s “50 unmissable film festivals“, DIFF has cemented its reputation as the ultimate destination to discover films from the Arab world and beyond. The archive gives you access to the films, juries, galleries, press releases and more from the first edition in 2004 through to the current edition.

Lifetime Achievement Awards 2011

Werner Herzog


Werner Herzog is an internationally renowned filmmaker who has worked in fiction and documentary from the beginning. Knowing at an early age that he wanted to work in cinema he worked at nights as a welder and invested his earnings in making short films whilst at Munich University. His fourth short, “Letze Worte” won a major prize at the renowned Oberhausen Film Festival. His first feature, “Signs of Life” (1968) won a Silver Bear for best first film at the Berlin Film Festival. It was with his third film that he leapt to the forefront of international cinema with “Aguirre, Wrath of God” (1972) shot in the Peruvian jungle. He won the Jury Prize at Cannes for “The Mystery of Kasper Hauser” (1975) and then Best Director there for “Fitzcarraldo (1982). This is extraordinary film is of a man determined to build an opera house in the Amazon jungle, hauling a ship over mountains to achieve it. The film was shot in the jungle and a ship hauled over the mountains – no cgi special effects were available then and one wonders if Herzog would have used them anyway. Inevitably he was seen as something of an inspired madman but this was to misrepresent someone who, as a dedicated filmmaker, has to cross boundaries and challenge the seemingly impossible. In 2009 he had two films at the Venice Film Festival, “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” which was in competition, and “My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?” a first for the festival. His creativity, whether in fiction or documentary (we are showing one of each) remains and his films continue to be extraordinarily personal. His ability to make them in an increasingly commercialised medium is something that we should most surely be grateful for.

Gamil Ratib


“To be feted by Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) is an acknowledgment of my expertise in art. I know that DIFF has previously feted three Egyptian artists: Faten Hamama, Omar El Sharif and Adel Imam; to be placed in their league, is a huge honour for me as an Egyptian, and for my country Egypt.” – Gamil Ratib

Gamil Ratib’s memories span across the past and present. They summarize the uniquely artistic journey of a lifetime. He left Cairo in the mid-1940s for Paris to study political science. Shortly after, he abandoned his studies and immersed himself in acting school. Never once regretting his choices, he realized his dreams and experienced artistic, cultural and political events that he would have missed out on had he followed the desires of his upper-class family that he remain a man of politics and law.

French and international cinema embraced his talent, as he acted out various roles until he achieved true stardom, when Egyptian cinema opened its doors to him in the mid-1970s.

To date, his credits include about 56 Egyptian films, five films helmed by Arab directors, 17 foreign films, in addition to several TV series and Egyptian and French plays, of which several are high-profile productions.

Gamil Ratib has worked with leading Egyptian directors including Salah Abu Seif, Ali Abdulkhaliq, Kamal Al Sheikh, Ali Badrkhan, Barakat, Sa’id Maezuk, Yousef Chahine, Atef Al Taieb, Osama Fawzi and Yousri Nasrullah. He also worked with Arab directors such as Mahmood bin Mahmood, Mu’min Al Samihi, Farid Bu Ghadir, Heyam Abbas, Rashid Frshio, Samir Al Ghosaini, Bu Alam Gharadjo and Abdulkarim Bahlul. Foreign directors he has worked with include Carol Reed, David Lean, Eduard Molinaro, Marcel Carne and Pierre Granier-Deferre.

Never one to complain about alienation or the path of creative solitude he has chosen for himself, Gamil Ratib is an extraordinary artist, content with his life’s creative journey and grateful for the love and support showered on him by the Egyptian and Arab audiences.

As DIFF honours him, two films featuring Gamil Ratib will be screened: the politics-themed film “The Beginning” (1986) by Salah Abu Seif, and “A Cloud in a Glass of Water”, a French film by Srinath Samarasinghe.

Allah Rakha Rahman


Allah Rakha Rahman is that wonderful Indian musical genius, who is popular worldwide. He is the first Indian to win two Oscars - for Best Original Music Score and Best Original Song for Jai Ho for Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” - of the eight that the film scooped up in 2009. His score for Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours” earned Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations. His amazing body of music in international and Indian films, as well as theatre, have also earned him two Grammy Awards, the Padma Bhushan, India’s high civilian honour, and an Honorary Fellow of the Trinity College of Music, with Time magazine naming him one of the ‘world’s most influential people’ in 2009.

A composer, musician, singer, song-writer, record producer and philanthropist, he has composed over 100 film soundtracks in several Indian languages, English and Mandarin. He has sold over 300 million records of his film scores and soundtracks, making him one of the world’s all-time top selling recording artists. Born A.S. Dileep Kumar in Madras (now Chennai, in south India), he converted to Islam following a family crisis. Called the ‘Mozart of Madras,’ Rahman is the first musician to be feted by Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) with its Lifetime Achievement Award. At 45, he is also among the youngest recipients of this honour. The Oscar-nominated “Lagaan” and “Dil Se” will screen at DIFF 2011. Rahman will also kick off his world tour with a concert on December 9 in Dubai that is supported by DIFF.

Since his debut in Mani Ratnam’s Roja in 1992, he has impressed with his unique, soulful compositions that redefined Indian film music, blending Western and Indian classical music with folk sounds, qawwali and symphonic orchestral themes. His work in international films also include “Elizabeth: the Golden Age” and He Ping’s Chinese film “Warriors of Heaven and Earth” and he recently collaborated with Rolling Stones’ legend Mick Jagger for the album “SuperHeavy”. For all these glories, he remains largely shy, modest and pious, insisting: “I don’t think a piece of art or melody comes from us. It comes from the divine and we need to have a state of mind (that’s) ready for it…If you’re not, it’s not true music.”
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