The leading film festival in the Middle East, Africa and South and Central Asia – the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) is underway.
Now in its eighth year, the event has established itself as a major festival showcasing the best of world cinema.
This year’s line-up includes world, international and regional premieres of films from over 50 nations, as well as top-tier talent and industry leaders, all of which will truly make for a momentous occasion.
The event began this evening with the world-premier of Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray.
The event caps a wonderful year for the property, the most recent from regional powerhouse Jumeirah, following its recognition as the United Arab Emirates’ Leading Spa Resort by the prestigious World Travel Awards.
Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise was in town for the event – having filmed sections of the fourth Mission: Impossible film earlier this year at the Burj Khalifa.
Dubai International Film Festival
In 2010, the event screened 157 films from 57 countries, including 41 world premieres, 13 international premieres and 58 Middle East premieres; hosted A-list talent from Arab, Asian, African and Western cinema; organised panel discussions and workshops; and welcomed more than 3,435 industry delegates to the Dubai Film Market, the business component of our Festival.
Past talent and industry executives have included: George Clooney, Oliver Stone, Nicholas Cage, Gerard Butler, Salma Hayek, Orlando Bloom, Terry Gilliam, Sumner Redstone, Richard Gere, HM Queen Noor of Jordan, Omar Sharif, Adel Imam, Duraid Lahham, Daoud Abdul Sayed, Hussein Fahmi, Ben Affleck, Shahrukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Freida Pinto, Giancarlo Giannini, Colin Firth, Colin Farrell, Peter Weir, Jim Sturgess, Beau Garett, Jean Reno, Karan Johar, and Souleymane Cisse, among others.
This year the festival offering is as diverse as it is unique.
On offer is a tremendous opportunity to feel the pulse of the world and of this dynamic region through its films; to interact with the established and emerging filmmakers who document its stories and lead its changes; to meet the leading lights of global cinema; and to connect with those who shape popular culture – all in one of the world’s fastest-growing economic hubs.
Burj Khalifa – recognised as the World’s Leading Tourism Development Project by the World Travel Awards – features in the Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol
Lifetime Achievement Award
DIFF has also extended its platform to present and honour excellence in cinema from countries in Asia and Africa.
Independent and established talents from Asian and African countries with a burgeoning cinema culture are given prominent standing in the festival’s programme and competition.
A sure fire highlight of the 2011 event – which is being hosted by Madinat Jumeirah - is the presentation of a lifetime achievement award to Werner Herzog, an Academy Award nominated German filmmaker and one of the founders of the ‘New German Cinema’, which marked the renaissance of the country’s film industry.
Herzog joins veteran Egyptian actor Gamil Rateb and Indian music composer AR Rahman to receive this top honour.
The event will be also feature a screening of classic Herzog work Fitzcarraldo and his new film Into the Abyss.
Madinat Jumeirah will host the event
Dubai in 2011
The Festival has also upped its glamour quotient, confirming A-list film and industry talent from the Americas, Europe, Asia Africa and the Arab world.
Alongside Cruise, the celebrities confirmed to attend from Europe and the Americas are Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Anil Kapoor, Léa Seydoux, director Brad Bird and producer Bryan Burk.
Abdulhamid Juma, chairman of Dubai International Film Festival, said this year’s edition is a defining moment for the Festival on all fronts.
“This eighth edition, more than any other before it, crystallizes our standing as a complete cinema ecosystem,” he said.
“Although we are a young festival, we have innovated year on year since our launch in 2004, refining our programme, building prestigious competitions, strengthening our industry offerings, all the while planting seeds across the Arab, Asian, African and global cinema landscape. This year, our harvest is abundant.”
“We are delighted to present such a diverse and exciting line-up of the best of our region and the world to the equally diverse people of our city.”
DIFF Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali said the film line-up represents both one of the most robust, competitive and diverse selections in the Festival’s history.
“The films that make up the Festival’s Muhr Arab documentary, features and shorts competitions and the Arabian Nights programme stand alone in the power of their subject matter, their style of execution, their creativity and boldness.
“These films are the second draft of history for the countries of the Maghreb, Levant, Egypt and Arabian Peninsula, and I encourage everyone to see them,” he added.
Jumeirah Group executive chairman Gerald Lawless welcomed the event to Madinat Jumeirah
The event – which runs until December 14th – is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE vice president & prime minister and ruler of Dubai.