Dubai film festival to celebrate Arab culture

Gulg News, August 7 –  Arab filmmakers are being urged to enter their work into a contest that aims to celebrate the region’s cultural heritage.

The Arab Film Competition, part of the Dubai International Film Festival, offers cash prizes to winning directors.

In addition to being made by a director of Arab nationality or origin, the films must have a storyline that centres on the Arab world or Arab history or culture.

There are three categories features, shorts and documentaries, in each of which 10 films will be shortlisted by a panel from the international and Arab film community.

Neil Stephenson, festival chief executive, said the competition would help the film festival to achieve one of its main objectives "showcasing and promoting excellence" in Arab cinema.

"The competition serves to provide Arab filmmakers with an opportunity to receive recognition for outstanding work, and encourage production of films that spread knowledge and understanding of the Arab world and its rich culture.

"It is also in harmony with the festival’s theme of ‘Bridging cultures, meeting minds’," he said.

The top three directors in each of the three categories will receive "attractive" cash prizes and DIFF certificates at an awards ceremony during the festival, which will run from December 10 to 17.

Films must have been produced between January 1, 2005, and September 21, 2006, and they should not have received or be due to receive a commercial release in the UAE before December 17 this year. They must not have been shown on any television channel or streamed via the internet to any public audience.

Masoud Amralla Ali, DIFF Arab artistic director, said many festivalgoers have shown "a high interest" in viewing Arab films.

"Through the launch of this competition, we want to support and strengthen the local and regional film industries," he said, adding that it was also aimed at strengthening Dubai’s own film industry base.