MUMBAI: Dubai Film Connection (DFC), is spearheading a new wave in Arab filmmaking with a showcase of 46 projects in various stages of production including 10 completed films, and nine nearing completion.
The DFC offers directors of Arab origin more than US$120,000 in prize money and invaluable industry connections. The co-production market also matches the short-listed director/producer teams with specialists in film production, sales, distribution and funding to further their projects.
DIFF managing director Shivani Pandya said: “The Dubai Film Connection has established itself as a tangible platform for Arab film-makers from around the world to accomplish their dream projects. All completed DFC projects have gone on to win global acclaim. This is further testament to the growing international stature of the festival.”
“One of the founding objectives of DIFF has been to encourage regional film-making talent, not only through creative support but financial and production assistance & know-how. Dubai Film Connection has successfully accomplished this goal, and has drawn the interest of filmmakers of Arab origin globally to Dubai,” she added.
Winners at DFC receive three DIFF Awards each offering US$25,000; the US$25,000 Desert Door DIFF Work in Progress Award, and the $10,000 Bahrain Film Production Company/DIFF Development Award. This year, Film Clinic Egypt extends further support to DFC projects with an award of US$10,000 for a first-time feature filmmaker.
Film Clinic managing director Mohamed Hefzy said, “At Film Clinic we are passionate about supporting emerging talent in the Arab world. We’re very proud to be presenting this award to a first time filmmaker, especially at Dubai International Film Festival as it is a main hub for Arab filmmakers and an important festival internationally.”
DIFF 2009, through its partnership with the Producers Network, Cannes Film Festival, extended its support to the participation of 5 producers from the Arab region; Ihab Jadallah (Krishna Films, Palestine), Fadi Sarraf (Sandbag Productions, Jordan), Talal Al Muhanna (Sofia Media Group, Kuwait), Lara Fadel (961 Productions, Lebanon) and Georges Schoucair (Abbout Productions, Lebanon).
Headlining the accomplishments of DFC since inception in 2007 are path-breaking films including City of Life, the first multi-lingual feature film directed and produced by a UAE national filmmaker, Ali Mostafa, with an international cast and crew in Dubai.
Amreeka, the lighthearted story of a Palestinian immigrant family directed by Cherien Dabis, is another DFC project that made its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win the prestigious FIPRESCI International Federation of Film Critics prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
Canada’s Hot Docs festival selected Lebanese director Simon El Habre’s documentary The One Man Village as Best International Feature documentary in 2009; the film also scooped up prizes in Rotterdam, Monaco and Prague and was screened as part of the official selection for the Muhr Awards at DIFF in 2008.
Also joining in the global acclaim for DFC projects is Lebanese drama Every Day is a Holiday, directed by Dima El-Horr, which debuted at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, while director Haider Rashid’s Tangled Up in Blue and Mohamed Al Daradji’s Son of Babylon scooped prizes at the Gulf Film Festival.
Other completed DFC projects include Fix Me (directed by Raed Andoni); Messages from the Sea (Daoud Abdel Sayed); Port of Memory (Kamal Al Jafari); and Zindeeq (Michel Khleifi), which won the Muhr Arab – Best Feature Film Award at DIFF 2009.
Entries for DFC 2010, to be held from 12 – 19 December, 2010, at this year’s Dubai International Film Festival will open in May with 1 August, as the last date of submissions. DFC 2009 had received a record-breaking 127 submissions from Arab-origin filmmakers from around the world.