Dubai adds programmers

Sharon Swart
TORONTO — Dubai Intl. Film Festival has tapped five new programmers, including experienced fest folks Peter Scarlet and Simon Field, to help scout titles for its second edition, unspooling Dec. 11-17.

Field, former topper of Intl. Film Festival Rotterdam, will program DIFF’s Cafe Europe and Insights from Asia programs. Scarlet, who also continues as exec director of Tribeca Film Festival, will put together Dubai’s In the Spotlight sidebar, focusing on a Hollywood thesp (to be announced at a later date.)

DIFF rounds out the newcomers with South African critic Nashen Moodley, Arab cineaste Raouf Tewfik and Iraqi-born pic journo Ziad Khuzai. They will program In Honor of Africa, In the Spotlight (Arab honoree) and Dubai Discoveries, respectively.

The fest’s raison d’etre is to build cultural bridges between the Islamic world and the Western world. Last year’s inaugural edition showcased 76 films primarily from the Arab world, India and a mix from Western nations, including the U.S.

DIFF will program about 85 films this year and is held under the patronage of the crown prince of Dubai and United Arab Emirates defense minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. The fest’s chairman is Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum, president of Dubai’s Dept. of Civil Aviation and chair of the Emirates Group.

The five new programmers join the existing programming staff: UAE Cultural Foundation artistic director Masoud Amralla al Ali, Arab pic expert Mohamed Maklouf, Canadian fest vet Hannah Fisher, Bollywood specialist and casting director Uma da Cunha, Greek filmmaker and EcoCinema Festival programmer Lucia Rikaki as well as journalist and former London Film Festival director Sheila Whitaker, whose focus this year is North American films.

Source: Variety magazine

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