06 October 2008

Dubai International Film Festival Celebrates Five Years Of Success

Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), under the honorary chairmanship of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum and the executive leadership of Chairman Albdulhamid Juma, announced additions to its programming structure, including new international consultants currently planning the Festival’s landmark fifth edition.

The 2008 festival will build on the exponential growth of 2007, when it experienced record breaking figures in industry and press registration, audience attendance and films showcased from around the world.

Masoud Amralla Al Ali will retain and expand his role as Artistic Director of the Festival, with increased creative authority over the Festival’s overall programme direction. As part of his vision for the future Al Ali announces the addition of the Muhr AsiaAfrica competition to reinforce DIFF’s commitment to supporting filmmakers on to an international level and cultivating growth in local and regional filmmaking. Nashen Moodley, Director of the Durban Film Festival and film journalist, has been appointed as Director of this competition.

Al Ali will be ably assisted by a qualified team of programmers including Simon Field, former Director of the Rotterdam Film Festival, will continue to contribute to the Festival’s programming as a Consultant.

Sheila Whitaker takes on the mantle of Director of International Programmes. A film veteran, Sheila, a renowned writer, jurist and consultant served as the Director of the London Film Festival from 1987-96.Programmers Hannah Fisher(Cultural Bridge), Uma Da Cunha, (Celebration of Indian Cinema) and Myrna Makeron, (Cinema for Children) will continue in their roles to showcase the best in international cinema.

Also assisting Al Ali in the Arabic Programming are two new members to the consulting team, Antonia Carver and Erfan Rashid.

Antonia is a programming consultant to the Edinburgh International Film Festival, a former writer on Arab cinema for Screen International and Editor of the international Arabian art journal Bidoun. Erfan Rashid is a widely recognized journalist and director with a number of documentaries in Arabic, English and Italian to his name. A consultant for many festivals and cultural events, Erfan is also Artistic Director of the "Mare di Cinema Arabo" festival in Messina.

The team also includes a strong Emirati element with Nawaf Al-Janahi, who is Arabic Programme Manager, and Saeed Al Dhahiri, Iman Al Omrani and Khalid Al Mahmood who have served as Assistant Programmers since 2006. All contribute to the Arab programming segment through their extensive knowledge and passion for film.

Philip Cheah has joined as Programme Consultant for the Muhr AsiaAfrica. He is a film critic and author/editor of Big0, Singapore’s independent pop culture publication, is a board member of NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) and is one of the Board of Directors of the Singapore International Film Festival. Alongside Philip is a team of scouts that cover the AsiaAfrica region, beginning with Pedro Pimenta for Africa, Shelly Kraicer for China and Hiromi Aihara for Japan.

The Festival is also introducing Animation as a special category among the Out of Competition offerings. The segment, to be programmed by Masoud Amralla Al Ali and Sheila Whitaker, will offer viewers the opportunity to sample latest trends in international animation and sense the diversity in the unique art form that is evolving rapidly with new technology.

Another pivotal element was the introduction of the inaugural Rhythm and Reels programme in 2007 to bring unusual and cutting-edge films together with live musical performances. This segment will be programmed by Masoud Amralla Al Ali and Dan Butkovich, Director of Festival Development.

“DIFF’s diverse programming consultants will continue to deliver innovative and universally important programming, following the festival’s mandate to foster inter-cultural dialogue which has established DIFF among other high profile festivals, attracting international support and attendance to firmly substantiate its place on the film festival circuit. Our programmers play a key role in this effort. Their expertise and incredible knowledge and passion for cinema elevate the festival to world-standard levels,” commented Masoud Amralla Al Ali.

The 2007 festival saw its greatest success, growing exponentially since its inaugural year to reflect record breaking figures in registration, box office sales and films showcased from around the world.

The dates of the landmark fifth edition of the Dubai International Film Festival are December 11-18, 2008.

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