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Oliver Stone, Nabil El-Maleh and Shah Rukh Khan Selected as DIFF Honourees

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) today announced this year’s festival will honour Oliver Stone, Nabil El-Maleh and Shah Rukh Khan for their outstanding contribution to cinema, as part of the DIFF Salutes programme.

DIFF Salutes is a retrospective tribute that celebrates the work of distinguished film makers from Asia, the Arab world, and Hollywood. This follows last year’s In the Spotlight segment, which honoured Oscar-winning American actor Morgan Freeman, the Egyptian "king of comedy” Adel Imam, and Indian producer-director Yash Chopra.

Abdulhamid Juma, Chairman of DIFF said: “Within three years, DIFF has come a long way in capturing the attention, participation and awareness of the regional and international film industry. The presence of these legends will confirm the festival as a forum that celebrates milestone cinema. Retrospective screenings of their acclaimed work will provide further momentum to DIFF’s objective of inspiring an emerging generation of film makers, who we think will take the industry to new levels of growth.”

Oliver Stone is well known for his trademark cinematic style of branding American history. A three-time Academy Award-winning director, producer and screenwriter, Stone is a veteran of the Vietnam conflict. His service awards include the Bronze Star for "extraordinary acts of courage under fire", and the Purple Heart.

At the forefront of several genre trends, his films are well crafted epics that deal with the effect of history on the individual and vice versa. A distinct feature of Oliver Stone's movies is the unique use of cameras and film formats, as seen in JFK (1991) and Natural Born Killers (1994). Stone has won a number of Oscars, including Best Adapted Screenplay for Midnight Express (1978) and Best Director for Platoon (1986) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989). Stone’s most recent film, World Trade Center, follows the thread of his earlier works in documenting events in the United States that impact people’s lives.

Representing Asian cinema in DIFF Salutes, Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan is one of the most famous actors in India, having appeared in over 55 films. Popularly known as “King Khan,” he is India’s quintessential leading man, but has often challenged perceptions by accepting anti-hero roles. Two of Shah Rukh’s films were India's official entries in the Oscars: Paheli (2006) and Devdas (2002).

A recipient of the coveted Padmashree, India’s fourth highest civilian award, Khan has also received 13 Filmfare Awards, the Best Citizen Award from the government of India, and the Rajiv Gandhi Award for Excellence in the field of entertainment. Khan is also a successful producer, co-owning two production companies, Dreamz Unlimited and Red Chillies Entertainment.

Nabil el-Maleh, the Syrian trailbreaker, film maker, poet and painter will accept the DIFF Salutes tribute on behalf of the Arab world. A pioneer in contemporary Syrian cinema, El-Maleh studied filmmaking in Czechoslovakia in the early 1960’s, returning to his native Damascus to direct a number of shorts, features and documentaries for Syrian television.

El-Maleh was one of the first Arab filmmakers to use experimental techniques, which paved the way for a new cinematographic language, His 90 second film Napalm (1970), a political piece in response to the wars raging in Palestine, Vietnam and the world at that time, had a significant impact on audiences in Syria and worldwide.

Inspired by the novel written by renowned Syrian author Haydar Haydar, El-Maleh wrote the script for his first full-length feature al-Fahd (The Leopard, 1972). The film won the first prize at the Locarno Film Festival that year. In 2005, The Leopard was selected by the Pusan International Film Festival as one of the greatest masterpieces in Asian cinema history. As the scriptwriter of his most acclaimed film to date, al-Comparss (The Extras, 1993), which explores the effects of poverty and government repression on a young couple, he has been acknowledged at the Cairo International Film Festival, the Biennial of Arab Cinemas at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, and the Rimini International Film Festival in Italy.

DIFF will pay tribute to the honourees during the Dubai International Film Festival 2006, which will run from 10-17 December at the Madinat Jumeirah.

In 2004, a new festival joined the ranks of the world’s international film festivals. Using the powerful medium of film to serve as a platform for inter-cultural dialogue and an instrument of global understanding, the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) launched with its theme of ‘Bridging Cultures. Meeting Minds.’

Going into its third year, the DIFF is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and under the Chairmanship of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. The DIFF is a not-for-profit cultural event, presented and organized by the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority.

DIFF showcases a wide selection of features, shorts and documentaries, from around the world, reflecting Dubai’s cosmopolitan and multi-cultural character. The festival further seeks to celebrate excellence in Arab and world cinema by screening a repertoire of critically acclaimed and award winning films.

Located at the crossroads of East and West, and one of the world’s fastest growing business and tourist destinations, Dubai provides an ideal meeting point for industry friends and colleagues from around the globe. The array of panel discussions at DIFF instigates a healthy exchange of ideas among a group of progressive film industry professionals, and the networking initiatives hosted by DIFF provide a conducive setting for conducting business.

In both its previous editions, the festival has attracted the attendance of prominent industry figures, including filmmakers and talent from as many as 46 different countries. Several past DIFF guests are currently scouting locations in Dubai for their new film projects.

DIFF 2005
Last year, DIFF took place from December 11 to 17, against the magnificent backdrop of the Madinat Jumeirah Arabian Resort. The festival’s registration figures increased dramatically and the audience grew from approximately 18,000 in 2004 to over 30,000 in 2005. The 2005 festival showcased 98 films from 46 different countries, which included 22 Gulf premieres, 38 Middle East premieres, 7 International premieres and 6 World premieres.

DIFF 2006
The third edition of DIFF will take place in early December, 2006. For information on this year’s festival, including details on film submission, media and industry accreditation, and other new developments, please visit the website www.dubaifilmfest.com during the year.

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