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Tue 13 Nov 2007 10:38 AM

Dubai puts new Gulf Film Festival in spotlight

TECOM says new initiative to provide Gulf filmmakers with a broader platform to exhibit their films

After the success of the Dubai International Film Festival, TECOM, Dubai's Technology and Media Free Zone Authority yesterday announced a new initiative that will provide Gulf filmmakers with a broader platform to exhibit their films and discuss issues that concern this region. The inaugural Gulf Film Festival (GFF) will run from April 9-15, 2008.

Massoud Amralla al Ali, who used to head the Emirates Film Competition and later, the Arabic section of the Dubai International Film Festival, will now take over as Festival Director of GFF.

Most competitions at GFF will be open only to Arab nationals from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Iraq and Yemen. However, there will be a couple of competitions that will also be open to expatriate filmmakers who live in these countries. A small selection of international short films will also be screened at the festival.

Speaking at the press conference yesterday, Abdulhamid Juma, deputy director general of Tecom and chairman of DIFF, said: "We are proud to support an initiative that furthers our mandate of promoting Arab cinema. It has always been clear to us that this region abounds with talent and is a viable and rich setting for quality cinema in its own right."

Beside the official competition, GFF will have several other programming segments: Out of Competition will screen Gulf feature films and shorts than were not selected for the official competition; In Their Eyes will screen films made by directors who reside in the Gulf region; the Best of Arab Short Films will feature films screened, or submitted, to the Muhr Awards for Excellence in the Arab Cinema segment at the Dubai International Film Festival; Intersections will show short films from around the world; and In the Spotlight will showcase short films celebrating a particular director's experience, a cinematic movement, or a certain country.

"We already have a fairly strong movement in making short films," commented Al Ali at the conference. "We hope this festival will now encourage more Arab filmmakers to look at making feature length films," he commented.

GFF will present a cash prize of AED 50,000 for the winner and Dhs35,000 for the runnerup for the Official Competition. Winners who get first, second and third place in the Documentary and Shorts sections will be awarded AED 25,000, 20,000 and 15,000 respectively. There will be other cash prizes as well in other categories.

All films entered into GFF must be directed by a Gulf national with the exception of the In Their Eyes segment. The film should not have been screened, televised or streamed online in the UAE before, except the Dubai International Film Festival and Ibda'a Awards, and must have been produced after January 1, 2006. The submitted work must not be a television programme or an episode from a series.

Films and scripts will be selected by a jury of international film experts. Shortlisted candidates will be notified by March 15th.

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