Middle East film fest announces new prizes

New prizes have combined purse of over $1 mil

CANNES -- Filmmakers picked for the Middle East International Film Festival could hit the jackpot. Festival reps in Cannes on Friday announced several new prizes including the Black Pearl Awards which have combined prize money of over $1 million.

The festival, set for Oct. 10-19, has also added three new student film awards of $25,000 each, and an International Competition for Advertising carrying three prizes of $25,000.

To be held at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, the festival will this year also revise its programming structure to include a focus on environmental films. Other sections include a "Festival of Festivals" section and the Emirates Film Competition, previously a standalone event which is being wrapped into the festival for the first time this year.

Mohamed Al Mazrouei, director general of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage said, "We are honored to be here at the 61st Cannes Film Festival. We wanted to ensure our position at this prestigious event in order to highlight to the world our seriousness in becoming an international player within the international film industry."

The festival also announced a call for entries, and was set to host an exclusive party Friday night at the Century Club in Cannes.