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Mon 22 Oct 2007 11:54 PM

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Arab filmmakers vie for top prize

Dubai International Film Festival attracts more than 300 entries for this year's Arab film competition.

The Dubai International Film Festival said yesterday it had received ‘overwhelming’ submissions from Arab filmmakers, reflecting a growing interest in the festival as a platform for promoting Arab films.

The festival has attracted over 300 films eligible for its second Muhr Awards for Excellence in Arab Cinema, which awards more than $300,000 in cash prizes. Its Arabian Nights category received 55 entries.

The Arab film competition, launched in 2006, has attracted more documentaries than features or shorts, reflecting an interest in the Arab world in cinema verite, and news reporting on issues facing the region, DIFF said.

Masoud Amralla Al Ali, the festival’s artistic director and co-ordinator of the Muhr Awards said “the high number of entries we have seen this year is extremely positive for our mandate of promoting Arab films. Our long-term goal for the Muhr Awards is to showcase excellence in Arab cinema, which epitomizes the talent and passion that is coming from this region”.

Entries for the Muhr come from across the Arab world as well as the US and Europe, with the majority of this year’s submissions from the Maghreb and Egypt.

The festival also received a number of entries from the UAE, which promises an Emerging Emiratis programming segment.

Last year’s grand prize was won by Algerian filmmaker Jamila Sahrawi, who took home $50,000 and a gold statue for her feature ‘Barakat’. The $30k Gold Muhr for Shorts was awarded to Shereen Diabes of Palestine for her film ‘Make a Wish.’ The $40k Documentary award went to ‘VSH Kahlusha’ by Tunisian Najeeb Bilkawi.

The fourth DIFF will run from December 9-16 2007. The non-profit cultural event is organised by the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority.

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