Founder of Dubai International Film Festival vows to continue fight for justice: settlement talks break down

Published December 16th, 2009 - 11:03 GMT

Neil Stephenson, the British Founder and former CEO of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) - an event conceptualized by Stephenson in the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks in order to build a "cultural bridge" between the West and the Islamic world - has vowed to continue his 3 year struggle to be recognized as the legitimate founder and creator of DIFF. Settlement talks broke down today after Stephenson's request to be recognized as a DIFF Co-Founder was rejected by DIFF Chairman Abdulhamid Juma.

He also vowed to continue his UK legal fight for justice against Juma and Managing Director Shivani Pandya.

The suit charges that Juma and Pandya engaged in "despicable behavior" and that the two defendants conspired to ruin his reputation by branding him a "racist" and an "Arab-hater," despite the fact that he had lived in the Arab world for 10 years and had launched DIFF in 2003.

Lawyers for DIFF and Stephenson had been locked in negotiations for the past three months where progress toward a settlement had been made.

Stephenson had proposed an equitable resolution whereby he and Juma would share a Co-Founder's credit, despite the fact that Juma had had little involvement with the first successful festival in 2004. Juma and Pandya launched a very different for-profit film festival in 2003 with convicted Pakistani fraudster Mahmud Sipra, but the event was ill-conceived and eventually failed. Stephenson's non-profit "cultural bridge" festival took its place to become the respected film festival that DIFF is today.

Stephenson commented: "It is sad that Mr. Juma could not have accepted our fair-minded settlement proposal. I have been engaged in a 3 year struggle for justice and fairness, and I have fought cleanly and honourably to obtain my rightful credit for having conceived and created DIFF, a festival I am proud of. I will fight for another 3 years if necessary to right this wrong."

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