Dubai International Film Festival
The eighth Dubai International Film Festival, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, today unveiled its line-up of 171 films from 56 nations, alongside a phalanx of A-list global talent, high-octane free events and a bustling industry portfolio.
The Festival, which runs December 7 to 14, spans feature, documentary and short films, including numerous new premieres including 46 world premieres, 25 international premieres, 78 Middle East premieres and seven GCC premieres. The films, made in more than 32 languages from Cantonese to Catalan, populate DIFF’s three Arab, AsiaAfrica and Emirati competitions and its popular out-of-competition segments dedicated to children’s, Indian and world cinema among others.
The DIFF 2011 selection also headlines a robust showing 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 these – 37 – are making their global debuts in Dubai; an additional nine are international premieres.
The Festival has also upped its glamour quotient, confirming A-list film and industry talent from the Americas, Europe, Asia Africa and the Arab world. DIFF, for example, will present its Lifetime Achievement Awards to veteran Egyptian actor and crossover star Gamil Rateb; Oscar- and Grammy-award winning Indian music composer A. R. Rahman; and internationally renowned auteur Werner Herzog. All three will attend the Festival to receive their awards and present associated films.
The Festival’s nightly red carpet gala screenings will also see major talent in attendance. DIFF 2011 gala films include Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (opening), Bollywood romantic comedy Ladies vs Ricky Bahl; Oscar-hot drama and George Clooney vehicle The Descendants; Disney family favourite The Muppets; German comedy-drama Three Quarter Moon; Italian immigrant drama Terraferma; Egyptian romance A Whole One and British drama My Week With Marilyn.
Among the celebrities confirmed to attend: From Europe and the Americas, Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Anil Kapoor, Léa Seydoux, director Brad Bird and producer Bryan Burk; Alexander Payne and Shailene Woodley; James Bobin; Helena Christensen; ace directors Peter Weir and Volker Schlondorff; from India, Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, producer Ritesh Sidhwani; rising stars Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma, director Maneesh Sharma; and Rahul Bose, among others.
DIFF’s stars from the GCC include, Fakhria Khamis and Buthaina Alraisi from Oman; Dawood Hussain, Ibrahim AlHarbi, Huda Hussain, and Mahmoud Bushehri from Kuwait; Zahra Arafat from Bahrain; and Abdul Mohsen M. Alnemer from Saudi Arabia.
From the Arab world are Amr Waked, Ezzat Abu Ouf, Lebleba, and Youssra from Egypt; Ahmed El Zein and Youssef Al Khal from Lebanon; Ismail Al Ajaili and Iman Al Rabti from Libya; Mohamed Miftah from Morocco; Mozna AlAtrash from Syria; and Dorra Shihawi and Ahlam Bou Affoura from Tunisia.
Abdulhamid Juma, Chairman of Dubai International Film Festival, said this year’s edition is a defining moment for the Festival on all fronts.
“This eighth edition, more than any other before it, crystallizes our standing as a complete cinema ecosystem,” he said. “Although we are a young festival, we have innovated year on year since our launch in 2004, refining our programme, building prestigious competitions, strengthening our industry offerings, all the while planting seeds across the Arab, Asian, African and global cinema landscape. This year, our harvest is abundant.”
“We are delighted to present such a diverse and exciting lineup of the best of our region and the world to the equally diverse people of our city.”
DIFF Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali said the film lineup represents both one of the most robust, competitive and diverse selections in the Festival’s history.
“The films that make up the Festival’s Muhr Arab documentary, features and shorts competitions and the Arabian Nights programme stand alone in the power of their subject matter, their style of execution, their creativity and boldness. These films are the second draft of history for the countries of the Maghreb, Levant, Egypt and Arabian Peninsula, and I encourage everyone to see them,” he said.
Elsewhere, the Festival’s AsiaAfrica programme is coming into its own, he added, with established filmmakers from Iran’s Jafar Panahi to Hong Kong’s Johnnie To and celebrated films such as Turkey’s Academy Award entry Once Upon a Time in Anatolia included. A number of DIFF alumni have also returned to screen their newest works. Eightynine films are vying for the Festival’s prestigious Muhr Awards in three categories – Muhr Emirati, Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica. The shortlisted shorts, documentaries and features, selected from over 1,700 entries from 106 countries, will compete for more than 36 awards and over US$600,000 in prize money in addition to invaluable industry connections. They will also be eligible for a variety of prestigious global awards including the FIPRESCI International Prize of the Critics Award and the Human Rights Film Network Award.
As in earlier years, DIFF continues the tradition of supporting charity initiatives. This year, DIFF and luxury Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen will host a gala dinner and charity event with all proceeds to go to UAE-based philanthropic organization Dubai Cares and global development and aid agency, Oxfam. The ‘One Night to Change Lives’ black-tie charity evening, will be held on December 10 at the Armani Hotel Dubai.
Finally, the Festival will also host a series of educational, industry and development initiatives as part of its Dubai Film Forum series and a series of free public concerts and films at its beachfront venue, The Walk at JBR.
Shivani Pandya, DIFF Managing Director, said: “It is not often that a young festival makes a significant difference to the film industry. DIFF, now just in its eighth year, has become a place for serious industry business, offering total script-to-screen support for emerging filmmakers, including talent development, co-production, post-production support and trade platforms.”
More than 1,100 industry delegates from around the world have registered to attend DIFF, she added.
This year, DIFF’s beachfront venue will host the screenings of 1929 silent film classic Pandora’s Box directed by G W Pabst and starring Louise Brooks, accompanied by a live performance from the 60-member UAE Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Philippe Maier; the world premiere of world music film Silence: All Roads to Music, preceded by a fusion concert mixing Spanish jazz, didgeridoos and Arabic stylings; Neil Young: Journeys; God Bless Ozzy Osbourne and jazz biopic The Girls in the Band, preceded by a concert featuring French female jazz trio Certains L'Aiment Chaud, all the way from France.