DIFF 2009 reels out rich cultural showcase of 168 movies from 55 countries


The sixth edition of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), this year, is bringing to the city 29 world premieres and 13 international premieres in addition to the first Middle East screenings of 76 films. Another 33 movies mark their GCC premiere at the festival, which flags off on December 9 and will continue through December 16.

DIFF’s rich cultural repertoire of 168 films is spread between two widely talked about global premieres – the Opening Gala of the all-star Nine and the Closing Gala on December 15 of Avatar, James Cameron’s return to silver-screen 15 years after Titanic.

DIFF Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali said: “Programmers from around the world worked over several months to hand-pick the finest of movies, representing diverse genres. Simultaneously, we also focused our attention on Arab cinema to bring a compelling collection of features, documentaries and shorts that highlight the richness of Arab talent and creativity.”

Brand-new dramas, rock documentaries, animation and comedy are among the eclectic line-up for Cinema of the World category featuring 26 most anticipated films. The segment this year features gritty dramas and controversial documentaries and a rich crop of music-focused offerings from Australia to Zanzibar.

New releases from established directors and actors including Spain’s Pedro Almodovar, Jim Sheridan, Annette Bening, Samuel Jackson, Drew Barrymore, Juliette Lewis, Geoffrey Rush, comedian Chris Rock and musician Jack White make their Dubai debuts.

Films exploring the history of European cinema, childhood melancholy, social dilemmas and an aviation adventure set in the Sahara Desert are among the eclectic mix of French films on show in the ‘In Focus’ segment of DIFF 2009.

A series of hard-hitting films featuring diverse storylines from across the Arab world will be screened as part of the Arabian Nights programming, presenting a reality-check on contemporary Arab and Middle East society through the lens eye.

An eclectic showcase of stories covering tradition and modernity from the Gulf Voices segment puts the spotlight on regional talent highlighting the predominance of young filmmakers with a passion for cinema.

Arab childhood tales meet time-less world classics in DIFF’s ‘Cinema for Children’ showcase. The segment will for the first time include three short films from Qatar in its repertoire, all of which make their GCC premiere at DIFF. In addition are whimsical and coming-of-age slices of life from the region, highlighting the evolution of Arab cinema and increasing focus on films for children.

A ground-breaking Indonesian film and quartet of Japanese movies are among the highlights of the Cinema of AsiaAfrica segment of DIFF 2009, which will also showcase the best new talent from China, Indonesia, Taiwan, the Philippines, Senegal and Korea.

Trend-setting master-filmmakers join a league of fresh talent at the Indian cinema showcase of DIFF 2009. The selection is also representative of the cultural plurality of the country while offering perspectives on both urban and rural India.

The heartbeat of DIFF – the Cultural Bridge Programme – this year brings together a formidable line-up of illustrious personalities and film veterans who will explore ways and means to promote solidarity and break down cultural barriers following the screening of the world premiere Budrus.

Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan will deliver the Keynote Speech, and will be joined by Julia Bacha, Director of the Cultural Bridge Film Budrus, renowned Hollywood Producer Mike Medavoy and MIT Professor Rebecca Saxe. Shamil Idriss will moderate the event.

DIFF 2009 is also partnering with the Human Rights Film Network a partnership of human rights film festivals around the world. Established in Prague in 2004, the Network promotes exchange, communication and collaboration regarding the representation of human rights issues in moving pictures. The network will present the Human Rights Film Award to a DIFF 2009 title selected from 10 movies that best depict the human rights theme.

Marking its international appeal, the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI), the foremost body of film writers, academics and critics from over 60 countries, has introduced the annual ‘Prize of the International Critics’ for Arab films screened at DIFF. This award will be presented for the best feature and short film in the Muhr Arab category.

DIFF 2009 is held in association with Dubai Studio City. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah are the principal sponsors of DIFF and the event is supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture). Full listings of films can be accessed via the DIFF website (www.dubaifilmfest.com) and downloaded on to your mobile phone.