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key changes at the Dubai International Film Festival

A series of key changes highlight the development of the Dubai International Film Festival. The festival’s credo of bridging cultures and meeting minds will be particularly prevalent during its December 10-17 run this year when it will be taking further serious steps to tackle controversial issues while facilitating and stimulating intelligent dialogue.

One step toward this goal is the introduction of the Sheikh Zayed Award, a lifetime achievement award to be given to a member of the film industry worldwide, who has made a contribution to building cultural bridges on the world stage through their artistic work.

In further underscoring its expansion, the festival has appointed Masoud Amralla Al Ali and Simon Field as Artistic Directors who will manage the overall programming for the festival, Al Ali and Field will be responsible for selecting films from the Arab and non-Arab worlds respectively, although Stephenson will continue to oversee the festival’s overall programming and will again personally program the festival’s flagship “Operation Cultural Bridge” program.

UAE National Al Ali is based in Abu Dhabi where he is the Artistic Director of the UAE Cultural Foundation and the founder of the Emirates Film Competition. Highly respected in the film community, he is regarded as one of the region’s foremost experts on Arab cinema. At DIFF 2006, Al Ali will be responsible for all Arab programming including a section entitled Emerging Emiratis that will present five films selected from the growing talent pool of upcoming filmmakers in the UAE.

“I am very proud and honoured to be part of a film festival that has such a positive cultural and social impact on Dubai. I look forward to growing my role with the festival, and ensuring that the program strengthens to become a credible and referenced source for excellence in Arab cinema,” commented Al Ali.

Simon Field was the Director of Cinema at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1988 where he remained for eight years. In 1996 he took on the Directorship of the International Film Festival in Rotterdam where he continued to emphasize the festival’s profiling of new directors and directions in cinema, with an emphasis on Asian Cinema. Since leaving Rotterdam in 2004, Field joined the London-based film production company Illumination Films. In collaboration with Keith Griffiths at Illumination Films, he will continue to work on the major New Crowned Hope project and develop future films.

At DIFF, Field will be responsible for all non-Arab programming overseeing a strong team of programmers. In addition to providing overall artistic direction for the festival’s non-Arab cinema, Field will personally curate the festival’s Insights from Asia, and Café Europe programs which will showcase a selection of films from the important film-producing countries of East Asia and Europe respectively. “It’s a great pleasure and challenge to play this new role in what is undoubtedly going to be an increasingly important festival for the Arab world and Internationally,” said Field.

“I am thrilled that Masoud and Simon have agreed to take on these important roles for DIFF. I feel that both of these men have eminent credibility in the international film community and I am confident that their contributions to our festival will be immense,” commented Stephenson.


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