Mumbai: As the curtain falls on the landmark fifth edition of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), the foremost cultural event on Dubai’s yearly calendar, organizers have released figures that indicate that the 2008 event was the most successful yet.
A total of 47,500 movie-goers streamed into DIFF’s screenings as of December 17, representing a significant increase in festival attendance over 2007. Coveted seats went in a flash, particularly for the festival’s Gala films, such as SlumDog Millionaire and South African apartheid-era biopic Skin, which were sold out to Dubai’s inquisitive film going audience.
DIFF managing director Shivani Pandya stated, "We are thrilled by high participation from the public and industry members alike, which means that there is a strong enthusiasm in Dubai for our mandate to showcase quality cinema. We are looking forward already to the 2009 festival, and another five years with our warm, supportive and informed Dubai audiences. We have a responsibility to our local community we are proud to have contributed to putting Dubai on the world film industry map, and will do our utmost to continue to do so."
While Ben Affleck, Salma Hayek, Abdulhussein Abdulredha, Hassan Salwan, Ahmad al Saleh, Goldie Hawn, Preity Zinta, Abhishek Bachchan, Lebleba and Nicolas Cage were some of the highest-profile festival guests, there were approximately 1000 members of the international film industry at DIFF this year, both for the second annual Dubai Film Connection and to attend the workshops, networking events and panel discussions put on by the Industry Office.
Hayek, Zinta and Hawn, along with Danny Glover, Terry Gilliam and Laura Linney were some of the A-list celebrity auctioneers at the second annual Cinema Against AIDS event, which despite global financial woes raised almost USD 2 million for the prominent HIV/AIDS research foundation amfAR.