The eighth edition of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, has received more than 1,760 film entries from 106 nations for its 2011 edition.
Of those, more than 1,000 short films, documentaries and feature films were entered in the festival’s flagship Muhr Emirati, Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica competitions; the remainder for DIFF’s multiple out of competition segments. Entries from India dominate the list at 160 followed by France (109); Iran (106), Egypt (91), the United States (87), the United Arab Emirates (71) and Lebanon (58). Germany, Palestine, South Korea and Palestine are also well represented, with more than 45 submissions each; Morocco (48) and Tunisia (34), among others.
Film entries have arrived from diverse sources, from the established film markets of France, USA, South Korea, and China to emerging markets including Mali, Ghana, Cameroon, Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia. Chile and Venezuela are also represented, highlighting the Festival’s growing footprint in South America.
Closer to home, the Festival has also received multiple entries from Syria and Libya, as well as a large selection of cinema that reflects the Arab Spring, captured by filmmakers in Tunisia and Egypt.
Films shortlisted for the Muhr competitions will vie for over 36 awards and more than US$600,000 in prize money, in addition to valuable industry connections. They will also be eligible for a variety of prestigious global awards including the FIPRESCI International Prize of the Critics Award, the Human Rights Film Network Award and the People’s Choice Award.
Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Artistic Director, Dubai International Film Festival, said: “The Muhr Awards underlines DIFF’s mandate to promote the growing pool of cinema talent in the Arab world, near Asia and Africa. The strong response to our call for entries highlights the growing global interest in DIFF’s ability to open doors for filmmakers to a global audience. Over the past years, Muhr Award winners have gone on to win international recognition, contributing to a surge in Arab, African and near Asian filmmaking.”
At the Muhr Arab Awards at DIFF 2010, Egypt, Lebanon and Morocco snapped up the most awards. The Egyptian entry 678 (Six, Seven, Eight) won the best actor awards for Maged El Kidwaany and Bushra while Microphone, also from Egypt, won Hicham Saqer the best editor award. In Muhr Arab Features, the best film was clinched by the Lebanese entry Stray Bullet, directed by Georges Hachem, while Jordan’s Transit Cities, directed by Mohammed Al Hushki, won the special jury prize.
Among Asian entries, the first prize was clinched by Chinese entry I Wish I Knew directed by Jia Zhang-Ke, with Ariane Astrid Atodji’s Cameroon film Koundi and the National Thursday won the special jury prize. The winners also included films from India, Ghana and Iran.
The DIFF programming team has started selecting films from the overall submissions; the final programme will be announced in coming weeks.
DIFF is held in association with Dubai Studio City. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah, the home of the Dubai International Film Festival, are the principal sponsors of DIFF. The Festival is supported by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.