Dubai film fest names Al Ali artistic director

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The Dubai International Film Festival has named Masoud Amralla Al Ali artistic director. A United Arab Emirates national, Al Ali has been the artistic director of the UAE Cultural Foundation and the founder of the Emirates Film Competition, now in its sixth year. Highly respected in the film community, he is regarded as one of the region's foremost experts on Arab cinema. Al Ali has been instrumental in shaping the careers of aspiring filmmakers in the UAE.

In his new capacity, Al Ali will oversee the programming for the festival that comprises films from Arab and international filmmakers. He will be assisted by a team of programmers and colleague, Simon Field, the director for international programming.

Abdulhamid Juma, chairman of Dubai International Film Festival, said in a statement Monday: "Masoud's expertise and understanding of the medium have been reflected in the caliber and diversity of films selected in the Arabian Nights, Emerging Emiratis and Muhr Awards categories. He has nurtured many upcoming filmmakers and spearheads key initiatives that aim to put Dubai on the cinematic map of the Middle East. DIFF 2007 will benefit from his knowledge and ensure filmgoers a rewarding experience."

Al Ali was artistic director of Arabic programming and coordinator general of the Muhr Awards for Excellence in Arab Cinema, an initiative the festival launched for its third edition in 2006. He also has presided over Emerging Emiratis, a section that presented five films from the growing talent pool of upcoming filmmakers in the UAE, since the festival's inception.

"I am very proud and honored to be part of a film festival that has so rapidly made Dubai a fixture on the world festival circuit. I look forward to growing with the festival and will do my best to ensure that the program continues to showcase the best international filmmaking, as well as to support and stimulate quality cinema from across the Arab world," Al Ali said.

"Cinema is a modern medium that allows stories to appeal universally, and that capacity for intercultural dialogue is the essence of DIFF's mandate. I am excited to have the opportunity to create a rich blend of stories from around the world."

Meanwhile, Arab filmmakers were invited Monday to submit their short films, documentaries and features to the Dubai International Film Festival's second annual Muhr Awards for Excellence in Arab Cinema by Aug. 31. The competition honors the work of Arab filmmakers in the feature, documentary and short film categories.

The Muhr Awards represent an important part of the festival's strategy to develop and support the Arab film industry, with highly competitive awards nearing a cumulative AED1.2 million (USD $325,000) in prize money.
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