Dubai International Film Festival, Screen Institute Beirut partner to support region’s documentary filmmakers

Published September 14th, 2010 - 10:40 GMT

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), the leading and largest festival of its kind in the Middle East, is strengthening documentary filmmaking in the region through a new collaboration with Lebanon-based Screen Institute Beirut.

Beginning with DIFF 2010, Screen Institute Beirut will award US$15,000 annually to a documentary film under development and included in Dubai Film Connection, the Festival's co-production market. An international jury, comprising Sandra den Hamer, director of the Eye Film Institute in the Netherlands and former Director of the Rotterdam Festival; Carthage Film Festival head Dora Bouchoucha; and Lebanese filmmaker Mohammed Sweid will shortlist entries and name the winner of the Screen Institute Beirut DIFF Documentary Award in December.

Shivani Pandya, Managing Director of the Dubai International Film Festival, said: "Documentary films are the most popular genre in the Arab world, outstripping the number of fiction features produced every year, and DIFF is recognized by directors and organisations alike as a strong platform for these needed voices and stories."

"The new relationship with Screen Institute Beirut will enable us to reach out to, encourage and assist more documentary filmmakers across the region, and reinforce our role as a resource and stage for Arab documentaries," she added.

Henning Camre, President of Screen Institute Beirut, said: "Screen Institute Beirut aims to strengthen the capability and the conditions for producing films in the Arab region. Our first target is new, personal, documentaries that bring to screen stories and subjects not often exposed. The Dubai International Film Festival offers a unique platform for young professionals from the Screen Institute to showcase their films, identify distribution options, and support for new projects. Our partnership with DIFF represents an important step in widening our scope and towards building strong ties with key organisations in the Arab region."

The Dubai Film Connection has helped four such productions reach completion. Previous documentaries completed under the Dubai Film Connection banner include Raed Andoni's Fix Me, which clinched the ARTE Award in 2007; Simon El Habre's celebrated The One Man Village, winner of the DFC and Muhr prizes and subsequent winner at documentary festivals in Canada, Monaco and Rotterdam; Kamal Aljafari's Port of Memory, presented in 2007; and Maher Abi Samra's We Were Communists, presented in 2008. Other projects under DFC include Mahmoud

Al Massad's This is my Picture when I was Dead, winner of the DFC 2008 prize and Mohanad Yaqubi's Off Frame, which won a 2009 DFC prize.

The Screen Institute Beirut is a Lebanese not-for-profit association, whose objectives are to strengthen filmmaking, infrastructure, and build filmmaking capacity in the Arab region. The partnership follows DIFF's recent tie-up with Film Clinic Egypt, which will award a US$10,000 grant to a first-time filmmaker selected by DFC.

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) took the wrappers off the largest and most comprehensive film market in the Arab world, a multi-faceted initiative that will create unprecedented access to film and talent from the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

The new Dubai Film Market will work 'from script to screen,' covering every aspect of cinema from conceptualization to distribution. It will house the Dubai Film Connection, the Festival's successful co-production market; the Dubai Film Forum, its popular hub for talent development, funding, workshops, and networking; Enjaaz, the Festival's dedicated post-production support programme; and the proven Dubai Filmmart, previously known as the Dubai Film Market, specializing in content trade, acquisition and distribution.

The seventh edition of Dubai International Film Festival 2010 will be held from December 12 to 19. DIFF 2010 is held in association with Dubai Studio City and supported by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah are the principal sponsors of DIFF. Registration for DIFF 2010 is now open at 

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