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DIFF celebrates its most successful year yet.

Festival-goers experience virtual reality during day three of the 13th annual Dubai International Film Festival held at the Madinat Jumeriah Complex on December 9, 2016 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for DIFF)

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) topped previous records in its 13th edition, withmore than 60,000 admissions and more than4,000 registered industry professionals and media from around the world. The dates for next year's festival, which will mark DIFF's 14th edition, have been confirmed as 6 -- 13 December, 2017. The festival will take place at Madinat Jumeriah.

The slate of films showcased during the 2016 festival featured 156 films from 55 countries, including 57 world and international premieres, 73 MENA premieres, 12 Middle East premieres and 9 GCC premieres.

The films from DIFF's 13th edition have won nine Golden Globe Awards, nine BAFTA awards and received 30 Oscar nominations.

The 13th edition bestowed three prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards, to the American film icon Samuel L. Jackson, the legendary Indian actress Rekha and acclaimed French Lebanese composer Gabriel Yared for their incredible contribution to cinema.

"This year's edition was spectacular. We saw international films with powerful and unique stories crafted in over 44 languages and from 55 countries. DIFF audiences were up to a challenging task to view so many different perspectives and cultures, but they surprised even us with such an overwhelming support from the community who filled the red carpets, special presentations and screenings. It truly captures the spirit of our work at the Festival, to celebrate our differences and discover how similar we are through the powerful medium that is film," said DIFF's Chairman Abdulhamid Juma, who was honoured by a Distinctive International Arab Festival Award this January for his contribution to Arab cinema.

He continued: "Centering on the core of DIFF to support the growth of Arab cinema, we screened more than 70 films from across the region, including highly debated topics which sparked discussion and won critical praise at the Festival and abroad. I am also delighted to continue to see the unabated growth of our industry arms -- Dubai Film Market and Dubai Film Connection -- which this year hosted more than 1,400 delegates to share insights, grow knowledge and further strengthen the work of individuals to their goal of the silver screen."

New to this year's offerings was Dubai Investors Club (DIC) at Dubai Film Market, whose successful inaugural year promises further growth in upcoming editions.

The 13th edition also witnessed a brand new Virtual Reality (VR) programme, 'DIFFerent REALITY', designed to give Festival-goers a window into the possibilities of virtual reality technology by viewing films in a whole new dimension at the du VR Cinema powered by Samsung, a first for the region ensuring DIFF is at the forefront of bringing the latest and advanced film-making techniques to the Arab world.

The festival in partnership with Screen International launched the first ever 'Arab Stars of Tomorrow' initiative designed to shine the international spotlight on the talented and promising young stars from the Middle East. The inaugural selection included; Lebanese director Mounia Akl, Tunisian actress Mariam El Ferjani, Jordanian director Amjad Al-Rasheed, Syrian actor Samer Ismail and Moroccan filmmaker Alaa Eddine Aljem.

Bringing together industry professionals, students and media to forge connections and shine a spotlight on the regional film industry, the Dubai Film Market (DFM), the leading industry platform for Arab cinema and business epicenter of the Festival, welcomed more than 4,000 industry representatives, media and film professionals from 62 countries.

Insightful 'In Conversations' were hosted in by industry leaders which included president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy award and four time BAFTA award winning director Asif Kapadia and highly acclaimed filmmaker Lenny Abrahamson who shared insights and anecdotes during bespoke Forum sessions, while cinema icon, Samuel L. Jackson held audiences captive as part of the 'In Conversation With' series for the 2016 Festival. At the same time, the Dubai Film Connection (DFC) returned to awarded funds and partnership opportunities to help regional filmmakers bring their work to the silver screen. It witnessed an impressive 231 meetings over three days and more than 1470 attendees participating in forum sessions.

DIFF's post-production programme Enjaaz supported 11 films in the programme and an additional ninefurther feature and short films which will receive fundamental support to help emerging regional talent finalise their works and bring their projects to screens and audiences this year. Since the programme's inception, more than 140 films have benefitted from the support system provided by Enjaaz.

Chairman Juma concluded: "Throughout the year we will continue to join forces with industry partners to promote local and regional film, and we look forward to welcoming back audiences from near and far to celebrate fresh storytelling, industry achievements and regional and international icons for the 14th edition later this year."

The post DIFF celebrates its most successful year yet appeared first on BroadcastPro ME.

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Publication:Broadcast Pro Middle East
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Feb 13, 2017
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