DIFF looks to make a difference

Fest looks to 2009 edition as game-changer

The sixth annual Dubai International Film Festival is aiming to make its mark as the most definitive showcase of cinema from the Arab world, Africa and Asia, DIFF chairman Abdulhamid Juma said.

"We have come a long way since 2004 -- enhancing our objectives, widening our reach, promoting talent from emerging markets, establishing strategic alliances with industry leaders and introducing trailblazing initiatives," he said. "This festival is defining the arrival of a New Age in Arab cinema supporting homegrown talent and extending regional cinema to an international audience."

For the first time, the DIFF Lifetime Achievement Award is going to a woman, Egyptian director Faten Hamama.

DIFF 2009 has also partnered this year with the Human Rights Film Network and the Alliance of Civilization Media Fund. The Cinema Against AIDS gala will be held as part of the festival as well, and will include an array of stars including Queen Noor, Matt Dillon and Mandy Moore.

Hollywood stars join A-list Arab and Indian celebrities in bringing stardom to the festival. Celebrity attendance at the film festival reflects the increasing global appeal of the event, Juma said.

The festival runs Dec. 9-16.