Rollin' out the red: 10th edition DIFF set to be off the chain!

Published November 25th, 2013 - 06:02 GMT
Hany Abu-Assad directs "Omar", the curtain-raiser for DIFF (Image: Facebook)
Hany Abu-Assad directs "Omar", the curtain-raiser for DIFF (Image: Facebook)

The tenth Dubai International Film Festival has revealed a rich and diverse selection of world and international premieres with a total of 174 feature films, shorts and documentaries from around the world screening alongside an exciting line-up of special events.

Omar by Academy Award-nominated and Golden Globe winning Palestinian Director Hany Abu Assad will raise the curtain on the decennial edition on Friday, 6th December. The acclaimed feature supported by DIFF’s post production and production funding support programme Enjaaz marks the return to the Festival for Assad whose Paradise Now opened the 2nd edition of DIFF. Set to become an Arab classic the masterfully paced film boasts compelling performances from Adam Bakri,  Samer Bisharat, Eyad Hourani and Waleed Zuaiter.

David O Russell’s American Hustle has been selected for the prestigious Closing Night Gala; DIFF will be the first festival to screen the highly anticipated film starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Louis CK and Robert De Niro.

The Festival will screen a total of 174 features, shorts and documentaries including 70 World Premieres and 11 International Premieres from 57 countries in 43 languages fromboth established and upcoming talent over a 9 day celebration of cinema. The line-up includes over 100 films from the Arab world which highlights the thriving film culture within the region and increased interest in Arab cinema from audiences around the world.

To celebrate the 10th edition there will be two daily red carpet galas at the prestigious Madinat Jumeirah Arena. On Saturday, 7th the first of the Family Gala’s presents Frozen from Walt Disney Animation Studios directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. The evening gala follows with August: Osage County by John Wells featuring Academy Award winners Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. On Sunday, 8th Jason Reitman’s Labor Day starring Academy Award winners Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin screens ahead of DIFF’s Arabian Gala Factory Girl by Mohamed Khan featuring Yasmine Raees, Hani Adel and Salwa Khatab. On Monday, 9th the highly anticipated 12 Years A Slave by Steve McQueen featuring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt will showcase. The evening gala is Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station with Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer. Ben Stiller directs and stars in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty screening on Tuesday 10th December ahead of Justin Chadwick’s Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom starring Idris Elba and Naomie Harris. On Wednesday, 11th Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson share the screen in John Lee Hancock’s Saving Mr. Banks and for the Indian Gala director Ritesh Batra presents The Lunchbox with Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Denzil Smith. Out of the Furnace featuring Christian Bale and Casey Affleck preludes Laila Marrakchi’s Rock the Casbah featuring Hiam Abbass, Nadine Labaki, Lubna Azabal, Morjana Alaoui and Omar Sharif on Thursday, 12th.Fred Schepisi’s Words & Pictures with Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche follows the prestigious Muhr Awards Ceremony on Friday, 13th. Rounding off the week of double-bill Gala’s on Saturday, 14th is our second Family Gala a 3D family adventure Walking With Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie directed by Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale.

Abdulhamid Juma, DIFF Chairman reflected on the milestone: “When DIFF launched ten years ago, we had very sizeable goals and were full of the spirit that saw the astounding growth of Dubai over the same period. We trusted in our community to support us and we knew there was strong demand for a world-class cultural event devoted to cinema. Since those early days, we have seen a surge in confidence in Arab cinema year on year, and DIFF is now the premiere platform for launching Middle Eastern films. We have been able to support and nurture filmmaking talent from emerging markets around the world whilst simultaneously supporting the development of a UAE film industry closer to home. We have developed grassroots industry programming, and have welcomed thousands of regional and international celebrities and festival guests. At our ten year milestone, we would like to express our gratitude to our supporters: Dubai’s leadership, our community members, from volunteers to cinema lovers, our sponsors, and the filmmakers themselves. It is thanks to you that DIFF is now a Dubai tradition, and we look forward to many more decades together”.

DIFF will present its Lifetime Achievement Awards to multi Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Martin Sheen one of the greatest actors of his generation with a career that has seen him appear in more than 65 films. The Arab Lifetime Achievement Award goes to veteran Egyptian film critic Samir Farid.  Samir is a giant in his field, and has been tireless in promoting cinema, both within the Arab world and beyond, for fifty years.

Martin Sheen will take to the stage for an “In conversation” event in the Souk Madinat Jumeirah Theatre; the unmissable event on December, 8th will give rare insight into the wonderfully versatile actor’s career.

International celebrities flying into Dubai this December include: Martin Sheen, Cate Blanchett, Irfann Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqi, Rooney Mara, Mark Ruffalo, Goldie, Berenice Mahloe, Maryam D’Abo, Priyanka  Chopra, Ranveer Singh,  Arjun Kapoor,  Jim Sheridan, Andy Serkis, Stephan Lang, Walter Parkes, Javed Jaffrey, Shekhar Kapur, Eugene Domingo, Michael B. Jordan, Naomie Harris, Abigail Breslin, Jonathan Teplitzsky, Catherine Breillat, Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck, Barry Cook, Yuya Yagira, Fred Schepisi, Rahul Bose, Jayaram, Arjun Rampal, Meltem Cumbul and Mehr Jesia Rampal.

A-list Arab celebrities set to grace the red-carpet include: Hassan Youssef, Yosra, Ezzat El-Alaily, Nelly, Nadia El-Gendy, Samira Ahmed, Youssef Shaaban, Abdelrahman Abouzahra, Ahmed Bider, Khaled Saleh, Samy El-Adl, Mahmoud Kabil , Hassan Mostafa, Mimi Gamal, Mohamed Saad, Sherine Adel and Monther Ryahnah.

And stars flocking to DIFF from the GCC include: Abdel Aziz Jassem Asmahan, Shojoun, Mashari Al Ballam, Soaad Abdullah, Shahed, Sahar Hussei,  Ahlam Hasan, Lamiaa Tarek, Intisar Al Sharrah, Lamiaa Tarek, Intisar Al Sharrah, Abdul Nasser Darweesh, Najwa Al Qubeisi, Sanaa Younis, Latifa Al Mojren and Ibrahim Al Zadjali.

The prestigious Muhr Awards have gone from strength to strength and this year will showcase a record number of films – an impressive 90 films will compete for over US$575, 000 in prize money across three categories – Muhr Emirati, Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica. The line-up this year was selected from 3,500 submissions from 143 countries, an overwhelming response that constitutes an over 60% increase from 2012 and reaffirms that filmmakers from around the world are keen to participate in DIFF.

Arabic features will also be eligible for a variety of prestigious global awards including the FIPRESCI International Prize of the Critics Award.

DIFF’s outstanding competition juries this year consists of world-famous filmmakers and industry decision makers who will come together to help judge the Muhr Arab, Emirati and AsiaAfrica Awards. Academy Award nominated filmmaker Jim Sheridan heads up the Muhr Arab Feature category and veteran Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah leads the Muhr Documentary category. Muhr AsiaAfrica Documentary deliberations will be led by film critic Tony Rayns. The three categories of short films – Arab, AsiaAfrica and Emirati will be judged by a jury led by acclaimed Tunisian director and screenwriter Nouri Bouzid.

The FIPRESCI feature and short fiction and documentary jury will be led by Bulgarian professor, critic and journalist Bojidar Manov.

DIFF Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali added: “The diversity of this year’s programming reflects the fruits of our capacity building efforts over the past ten years. With submissions to the Muhr Arab, Muhr Emirati and Muhr AsiaAfrica Awards growing exponentially year on year, we have seen production values and filmmakers’ aspirations reach unprecedented highs. As a result, this year’s selection of Arab cinema is the most diverse thus far, both in terms of narrative and technique, from some of the Arab world’s most legendary directors. Our AsiaAfrica selection ranges from creative documentary to murder mystery from every corner of those two wide regions. Our landmark tenth edition is truly a gift for Dubai’s cinephiles, with some of the most celebrated films in the world this year coming to festival screens”.

Academy Award winner and IWC Friend of the Brand Cate Blanchett returns to Dubai to head the IWC Filmmaker Award jury for the second year running. The award which offers a US$ 100,000 cash prize to one winning filmmaker will be presented at an event hosted by ‘Supporting Sponsor’ and Official ‘Festival-Time’ Partner  IWC Schaffhausen on Saturday, December 7th.

On December 11th, DIFF will partner for the third year running with Dubai Cares and Oxfam to host a glittering annual ‘One Night to Change Lives’ charity event under the patronage of UN Messenger of Peace HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Proceeds from the exclusive star studded gala evening will go to the UAE-based philanthropic organization Dubai Cares and global development and aid agency, Oxfam to support their work responding to the current crisis in Syria.

The Dubai Film Market, the leading industry platform for Arab cinema and the business centre of the Festival will showcase a slate of 20 films supported by Enjaaz and a further 3 films supported by the Dubai Film Connection to audiences during DIFF.

Pioneering initiatives such as the Dubai Film Connection co-production market, Enjaaz post-production support, Forum sessions during the festival and Cinetech, a digital platform for sales and acquisitions have made the Dubai Film Market, the definitive one-stop-shop for Arab film-makers.

Shivani Pandya, DIFF Managing Director said: “Arab film is riding high on the world stage, festivals have increased the Arab films they showcase and for us it’s incredible to see talented filmmakers from the region receive the recognition they deserve. Three of the films we have supported at various stages in their journey are being considered for this year’s Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film, which reconfirms the initiatives created through the Dubai Film Market are enabling filmmakers to bring their work to audiences around the world.  Over the years we have secured a wealth of international and regional partnerships that have provided support for the breadth and vitality of Arab cinema and many of these key professionals will attend DIFF this year to focus on business and talent development. For our audiences we have increased the number of screenings and venues to give more opportunities to take part in the Festival and celebrate films from our 10th edition”.

Throughout the week Festival goers can attend the over 40 sessions that combines Networking sessions, ‘How to’ sessions, Master classes, ‘In Conversations’ with, Industry panels, Broadcasters Day and Dubai Docs. Highlights include; Beyond the Oscars and An Academy Conversation on Directing led by a delegation from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Included in the array of new initiatives is the “Dubai Docs”, a pilot project to raise the awareness of, and interest in, creative documentary filmmaking in the Arab world.  In association with AFAC, Screen Institute Beirut, DOCmed, BOSCH, CPH: DOX LAB, who are supporting documentary film-makers in the Arab region, will provide a three-day training and talent development programme for eight project team.

There is also opportunity for networking sessions for industry business, offering total script-to-screen support for filmmakers, including talent development, co-production, post-production support and trade platform.

Taking place over nine days, the Festival’s screenings are at Madinat Jumeirah Arena, Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah and VOX Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates. In addition a series of free screenings will run from the 7th – 14th December at Burj Park, Downtown Dubai in partnership with Emaar.

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