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Tue 9 Mar 2004 04:00 AM

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Dubai to host international film festival

Filmmakers will have one more platform to showcase their art when the first-ever Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) begins in December 2004.

Filmmakers will have one more platform to showcase their art when the first-ever Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) begins in December 2004. The five-day event, scheduled to be held from December 6-11, 2004, at the Madinat Jumeirah Resort in Dubai, will bring to local audiences a combination of movies from Hollywood, Bollywood, the Middle East, Europe and the Phliippines.

Chairperson of the festival, Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of the Department of Civil Aviation and chairperson of the Emirates Group emphasised that the event was part of Dubai’s efforts to foster cultural understanding and international harmony.

“Dubai has always been a cultural crossroad where people from all over the world live together in a peaceful and harmonious environment. I hope that this festival, through the medium of film, can make a small contribution toward building cultural bridges and promoting peace and understanding on the international stage.”

Budgeted at around US $6 million, the event hopes to bring together 550 members from the film world to attend the festival. Organisers of the event are also confident that the event will gradually be on a par with other international film festivals. "We are optimistic that the festival will grow slowly, but steadily over the coming years so that it can one day join the ranks of the world's leading film festivals such as Cannes, Venice, Sundance and Toronto. For now, the focus is on building a strong local event and developing a local and enthusiastic local audience," commented Neil Stephenson, director and chief executive officer (CEO), DIFF.

Financed and organised by the Dubai Media City, the inaugural festival will feature 80 main films as well as other short films and documentaries. There are plans to host academic workshops and forums as well that will be moderated by celluloid celebrities. "The film festival will be a wonderful event for film professionals and cinema lovers from all over the world to network and discuss both the art and the business of film," commented Ahmed bin Byat, director general of the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone.

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