The Dubai International Film Festival has opened the doors to its 9th edition, inviting filmmakers from across the Middle East and around the world to earn a coveted spot in its December 9 to 16 festival and its successful Dubai Film Market industry hub, dedicated to assisting films and filmmakers at every stage of development.
DIFF, the leading festival of the Middle East is accepting entries for its flagship competitions – the Muhr Arab, Muhr Asia Africa and Muhr Emirati segments – and its diverse out of competition segments dedicated to contemporary regional and world cinema, children’s cinema and Indian cinema.
The closely contested Muhr Arab competition, traditionally the first stop for the best cinema from the Arab world, is also the most successful global launch pad for the region’s cinema. Award winners from previous years, including features from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine, have consistently continued on to and found success at the world’s leading festivals from North America to Australia.
The Muhr Asia Africa competition, a showcase of the best cinema from the immensely diverse continents, has grown exponentially in stature in recent years, drawing films from celebrated directors including Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Mohammad Rasoulof and Eric Khoo.
The Muhr Emirati competition remains the only dedicated competition for cinema and talent from the United Arab Emirates, home of the Dubai International Film Festival.
DIFF, which offers the only holistic cinema ecosystem between the major film hubs of Europe and the Far East, drew more than 1,760 film entries from 106 nations for its 2011 edition, and shortlisted 171 films representing 56 nations.
Narrative features, documentaries and short films are all eligible for entry, and filmmakers have until August 31, 2012, to enter their films. Films must have been produced after September 1, 2011; and must not have been previously screened in the Arabian Gulf, unless at the fifth Gulf Film Festival.
Festival films are also eligible for a host of premier industry prizes, including FIPRESCI. The Festival’s competitions offer a combined purse in excess of US$640,000.
The Dubai Film Market, the multi-faceted initiative specializing in training and development, co-production, networking and post-production support, is also accepting submissions for its co-production market, Dubai Film Connection; its post-production support programme, Enjaaz; and Dubai Filmmart, its film distribution and acquisitions platform.
Fresh off a successful fifth edition, the region’s most successful co-production initiative will shortlist 15 director-producer teams to receive more than US$100,000 in funding, industry connections and matchmaking access to specialist teams to help realize their documentary and feature film works in progress.
Enjaaz, the Market’s post-production support programme, also offers 15 filmmakers up to US$100,000 to accelerate their works through the final stage of filmmaking. Both initiatives will accept entries until August 1, 2012.
In response to requests from global industry and regional filmmakers, Dubai Filmmart, the film trade arm of the Market, will accept both Festival and non-Festival films for inclusion this year. Selected films will be screened to industry buyers and delegates via its state-of-the-art digital Cinetech screening system. The Filmmart deadline is the same as the Festival submissions deadline: August 31, 2012.
Festival Chairman Abdulhamid Juma said the DIFF team is preparing for another standout edition that builds on the festival’s reputation as being a global centre for discovery of Arab, Asian, African and other international cinema.
“This year, more than ever before, delegates and visitors will experience a more integrated festival that delivers on Dubai’s standing as the unparalleled film ecosystem in the wider region,” Juma said. “Ultimately, our biggest satisfaction as organizers is in enabling talent and films find critical and commercial success; and in providing a memorable, rewarding and challenging event for our audiences.”
On the public front, the Festival is known for consistently drawing A-list talent and films. DIFF 2011, which opened with the premiere of Paramount blockbuster Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol in the presence of director Brad Bird and headline talent Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton and Anil Kapoor, also drew celebrated directors such as Werner Herzog and Alexander Payne, and followed DIFF 2010’s opening success with The King’s Speech in the presence of star Colin Firth.