MEIFF opens up competition

Adds category for first- and second-time directors

The 2010 Abu Dhabi Middle East International Film Festival will include a new competitive section for fiction and nonfiction feature films by first- and second-time directors.

The Afaq Jadida (New Horizons) Competition will focus on the work of new talents from the Arab world shown side-by-side with that of their international counterparts.

Films in the competition will vie for MEIFF's Black Pearl Awards for best new narrative film, best new narrative film from the Arab World, best new documentary and best new documentary from the Arab World, each with a $100,000 cash prize.

MEIFF executive director Peter Scarlet noted the impetus for this new competition: "During my last year's travel with colleagues through the region, as we set out to assemble a program of new films, we had many opportunities to meet young filmmakers and to exchange thoughts and ideas. Not infrequently we found ourselves surrounded by an incredible energy and a stunning creativity, by a burning desire to tell good stories, to make films that could be faithful to their own identity but could at the same time appeal to a universal audience."

The Afaq Jadida (New Horizons) Competition will make its debut alongside the existing Narrative and Documentary Competitions for feature-length films. Each of the three competitions will be judged by its own jury composed of high-profile creators and professionals from the region and around the world who will chose the winners of the Black Pearl Awards, including awards for the best films from the Arab world.

"Given the growing vibrancy of young filmmakers in the region, and the great interest shown by the international industry community, we simply wanted to make the Middle East International Film Festival even more of a driving force in terms of opportunity, recognition and networking for new talent in both fiction and nonfiction films," said Eissa Saif Rashed Al-Mazrouei, project director of MEIFF.

MEIFF 2010 will also present two competitive sections devoted to short films and another competition focused on work by filmmakers from the UAE or GGC countries.

Additionally, a Showcase section offers a further glimpse of important contributions to filmmaking around the world today with screenings of some of the best examples of international cinema, contending for the Black Pearl audience choice award.

Films devoted to broadening public awareness of significant environmental issues are presented in a sidebar called "What in the world are we doing to our world?"