Gulf Film Festival in Abu Dhabi
The Sultan Bin Zayed Centre for Culture and Media will host the Gulf Film Festival in Abu Dhabi for the first time, from April 12 to 14, 2012, at the Abu Dhabi Theatre on the corniche.
The partnership, announced today by His Excellency Habib Al Sayegh, Director General of the Centre, and Abdulhamid Juma, Chairman of the Gulf Film Festival, means the best professional and student cinema from the Gulf nations, Iraq and Yemen will screen in the capital city next month.
Addressing the media at the centre earlier today, H.E. Al Sayegh announced the support of His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Representative of UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, for Emirati, Gulf and Arab cultural events that promote creative talents in the UAE and the film industry in general.
“Sponsoring and organising this Festival in cooperation with the GFF management delivers on our commitment to serve the community and assist organisations in implementing projects that are beneficial for both the country and its citizens,” he said. “The Centre will continue to drive the cultural growth of the UAE and support valuable creative initiatives and activities such as the Gulf Film Festival.”
GFF Chairman Abdulhamid Juma said: “The Gulf Film Festival is unique in the world as the only dedicated platform where seasoned and emerging filmmakers from our region can share what’s on their minds. This is a rare window into the heart of our societies, and we are delighted to welcome the Abu Dhabi community to make the most of it.
“We are immensely grateful for the support of the Sultan Bin Zayed Centre for Media and Culture in making our long-held dream a reality, and for their continued support of Emirati, Gulf and Arab youth in particular,” he added.
The weekend of documentaries, features and shorts marks the first time the five-year-old Dubai-based Festival will run simultaneously in multiple UAE cities, and its first foray into the UAE capital.
GFF 2012 received nearly 1,200 submissions from more than 90 countries, with a strong showing from the Arab world including 147 from the UAE, 77 from Iraq, 59 from Egypt, 36 from Saudi Arabia and 27 from Bahrain. Of those, the Festival has shortlisted 160 films in its official screening programme. The Festival’s international shorts competition is also a major draw, receiving more than 700 submissions in more than 60 languages representing nations from Afghanistan to Australia.
The Festival also houses several out of competition segments including a children’s cinema programme, a special focus on French experimental filmmaker Gerard Courant and a special presentation of films developed during a master class with Abbas Kiarostami during the last GFF.
Festival Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali said the fifth edition films will be eye-opening, entertaining and exhilarating in equal measure. Films confirmed so far run the spectrum from the heartbreaking Kurdish war documentary Halabja: The Lost Children to the heartwarming This is London, a Bahraini comedy about a couple’s mission to send their photograph to their son in London, and the chaos that ensues when the wife refuses to go into the studio.
In addition to its film programme, the Gulf Film Festival is also active in discovering and developing talent, and disseminating Gulf cinema throughout the world. Films and filmmakers from the region have been showcased at GFF platforms in international festivals from Armenia to Zanzibar, Australia to Sweden.
The Festival recently launched the first Gulf Script Market for Short Films, an initiative that will finesse the scriptwriting skills of regional writers and filmmakers, partner them with directors and producers, and help turn the completed scripts into reality. The first edition of the script market, which will be held from April 11 to 13 in Dubai, follows last year’s introduction of the Festival’s annual production fund for Gulf short films, Enjaaz for short films.