Dubai fest promises diverse slate

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As it enters its third year, the Dubai International Film Festival, which kicks off with Emilio Estevez's "Bobby" on Dec. 10, promises a vast lineup of international films, including one of the largest displays of Arabic films from the Gulf States, the Middle East and North Africa.

Some 115 films from 47 countries have been scheduled to screen during the 8-day event, which has lined up celebrity guests from Hollywood, Bollywood and the Arab world.

"We are featuring more films than ever before and we have cast the net wide geographically as well," festival chairman Abdulhamid Juma said in a statement. "Festival guests will be able to see a Moroccan film in the morning, an African film in the afternoon and a Hollywood offering in the evening."

Juma added that the festival was particularly proud of the extent of its Arab programming, which he said the festival "will continue to expand as part as part of our mandate to stimulate Arabic filmmaking."

The festival's program is divided among films in and out of competition. The in competition section will see ten films vie for $325,000 in prize money as part of the Muhr Awards for Excellence in Arab Film. The out of competition segment, divided into several categories, offers both Arab and international programming.

Oliver Stone, who will screen his "World Trade Center" at the festival, has been chosen for a DIFF Salutes recognition, which honors filmmaking personalities from Asia, the Arab world and Hollywood. In addition to Stone, this year's honorees include Indian actor Sha Rukh Khan and Syrian filmmaker Nabil Maleh.

An Emerging Emiratis program is devoted to the works of United Arab Emirates national filmmakers. "We are dedicated to developing the film industry in this region and honing the talents of filmmakers that are up-and-coming," said Masoud Amralla al Ali, DIFF's artistic director of Arabic programming.

Operation Cultural Bridge is dedicated to films that seek to bridge understanding between the Muslim world and the West; Cafe Europe features films from such major European production centers as the U.K., France, Italy and Spain; and Insights from Asia highlights films from the Far East, including Japan, China, the Philippines and South Korea. In addition, there are sections devoted to films from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Africa, Russia, Romania, Iran and Argentina.

A Cinema for Children, a first-time DIFF offering, will present films from Finland, Denmark, Germany and the U.S.
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