Dubai International Film Fest celebrates French cinema

MUMBAI: The Dubai International Film Festival’s (DIFF) 2009 programme will focus on France.

France has had close ties with the Arab world for centuries and has developed complimentary interests as a result.  Today at least five million Arabs live in France, which is by far Europe’s biggest community. In the world of film this has manifested itself through funding and long lasting support from French companies for Arab productions.

DIFF’s Lifetime Achievement Awards, a retrospective tribute that celebrates the world of influential filmmakers from the West, the Arab World and the East, last year honoured Algerian/French director Rachid Bouchareb for his unique narrative style and an illustrious cinema career that has helped many young Arab Filmmakers learn the craft.

Festival’s artistic director Masoud Amralla Ali added: “We selected France as this year’s focus because not only is it a nation steeped in cinema history, but it is also a nation that has continually supported Arab cinema through co-productions and we felt this needed to be recognised and commemorated. French films are taking centre stage around the world, rejuvenating French cinema and positioning itself as a powerhouse of production.”

Commenting on the extensive industry connections, DIFF managing director Shivani Pandya said: “The In Focus France programme recognises the French and Arab industries’ collaborations and celebrates the coming together of two cultures to produce thought provoking films. The support Arab filmmakers have received and continue to receive from the French film and television industry is tremendous and we hope that these collaborations continue well into the future, with increased co-production initiatives and talent exchange”.

DIFF in 2007 entered into a strategic alliance with the Cannes Producers Network by offering the producers of the three winning Dubai Film Connection (DFC) projects complimentary registration.  In addition to the above, the DFC in 2007 also included a grant from Arte France Cinema now in its third consecutive year.

ARTE renewed its association with the DFC, an event that brings together international and Arab film professionals and as a concrete token of its support to productions from the Arab world, awards a €6000 “International Relations ARTE Prize” to a project with outstanding originality, personal writing and consistency.

ARTE director of International Relations André de Margerie said, “ARTE is present in Cannes with 21 films, French, European and international co-productions highlighting its support to worldwide talents. It is with great pleasure that ARTE renews its commitment to the Dubai Film Connection at the Dubai International Film Festival, an event of great quality bringing together international and Arab film professionals. We are also pleased that the 2009 edition of DIFF will include In Focus France, a cross-section of our most challenging and exciting cinema–exactly the kind of international relations that ARTE espouses and that we hope to see more of in the future”.

Representation from French companies at DIFF over the years include Wild Bunch, Director’s Fortnight, Rezo Films, Memento Films, France 3, Gaumont, Celluloid Dreams, Marche Du Film, Intervista amongst many others, committed towards the Arab film industry through various co-production deals.

French Ambassador to the UAE Alain Azouaou said, ““We are proud of the fact that the Dubai International Film Festival will spotlight the craftsmanship of some of our most recognized filmmakers for this year’s edition. French cinema, both artistic and popular, has maintained a significant share of the market and a high level of artistic quality, and In Focus France at DIFF 2009 is going to be an excellent opportunity for the UAE to sample cinematic offerings from one of the most established cinema strongholds”.

Unifrance president Clermont Tonnerre said, “In Focus France” will offer DIFF’s discerning audiences a closer look into the social and artistic fabric of one of the World’s oldest cinema cultures. Since the earliest days of motion pictures, French cinema has been celebrated and admired by film enthusiasts across the globe. Dubai International Film Festival is one of the most celebrated and recognised events in the Middle East and we believe our association with the Festival will showcase the vibrant energy and unique perspective of some of France’s most applauded filmmakers, in line with our mandate to promote excellence in French Cinema worldwide”.

The 6th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival takes place from 9 – 16 December, 2009.

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