Organisers of the Dubai International Film Festival today announced a resounding response from Arab film makers worldwide to its debut Arab Film Competition.
More than 250 entries have poured in from around the world to compete for jury prizes in the Muhr Awards for Excellence in Arab Cinema. In line with the competition’s focus, the entries provide creative testimonies to Arab history and culture, and social issues impacting the Arab community.
Highlighting the importance of the competition and the festival to the Arab film world, Abdulhamid Juma, Chairman of DIFF said: “It’s an important platform for Arab film makers to have their voices heard by international industry leaders. The week long event not only serves as a global arena for the celebration of excellence in Arab cinema, it also provides a dynamic momentum for the growth of the regional film industry.
“Our directive at DIFF is to ensure that the world continues to see the festival as a dedication to the creative expression of Arab tradition and culture through initiatives such as the Arab Film Competition.”
Approximately AED 1.2 million (US$ 325,000) in prize money is up for grabs by winning entries in Feature, Shorts and Documentary film categories.
Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Artistic Director of Arab Programming and coordinator general of the Arab Film Competition said: “Film making in the Arab world has long been the domain of a select few. This was in part due to cultural mores, and in part due to financial complexities. However, the Arab film community is more expansive now and as witnessed by the entries received, Arab films are not confined to the Middle East alone.
“We have received entries from Arab film makers worldwide, including Europe and North America. All have chosen to highlight the rich fabric of Arabian culture and societies in their work, while presenting contemporary perspectives of the Arab world.”
A distinguished jury comprising members of the international and Arab film community short-listed 10 in-competition films for each category. Some of the entries have also been reviewed for selection to the out of competition segment, Arabian Nights.
Speaking on her experience as a panelist, Katherine Peters, a film maker from Germany said: “I have never seen such a diverse selection of shorts and documentaries. It was a huge learning experience to absorb the creative thought process of Arab film makers.”
Panelist Kamal Ramzy, a noted Egyptian film critic and historian added that DIFF was following the right course to grow into a major film event of the Arab world. “I gained a deeper understanding of DIFF’s far reaching objectives. I had heard and read a lot about the festival, but was never an active participant until this year. I have rarely been involved in a festival that is so well coordinated.”
The Dubai International Film Festival is scheduled to be held from 10-17 December 2006.