Lucia Rikaki programmer at Dubai International Film Festival for section "Destination Documentary"

Top team formed for global film fest in Dubai

By a staff reporter / 13 September 2004

DUBAI — Dubai Media City yesterday announced its high-powered programming team and advisory board for the inaugural Dubai International Film Festival, to take place between December 6-11.

The festival will be held under the patronage of General Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Defence Minister and the Chairmanship of Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Department of Civil Aviation and Chairman of the Emirates Group.

The programming team consists of a mix of distinguished international programmers and film connoisseurs including Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Noah Cowan, Uma da Cunha, Hannah Fisher, Lucia Rikaki, Sheila Whitaker, Claudia Landsberger, Mohamed Maklouf, Tony Sloman and Antonia Carver.

The Dubai fest will feature a total of 80 films, which include 55 main features, 10 sidebar screenings and 15 Arab short films. These films will be further broken down into 10 distinct programmes.

The festival will present five red carpet "Dubai Gala Screenings" at the festival's home and epicentre, Dubai's stunning new Madinat Jumeirah Arabian Resort. The festival programme has been designed to reflect Dubai's cosmopolitan and multi-cultural character, while its centrepiece programme, "Operation Cultural Bridge", is intended to stimulate meaningful inter-cultural dialogue among festivalgoers.

Dubai Media City also announced today the Advisory Board for DIFF:

Alberto Barbera, Director, Museo Nazionale del Cinema, Torino, Italy

Piers Handling, CEO and Director, Toronto International Film Festival Group

Roger Ebert, Film Critic, Chicago Sun-Times

Subhash Ghai, Chairman, National Entertainment Committee of the Confederation of Indian Industries

The Festival Chairman, Shaikh Ahmed said: "I am especially happy to have such a powerful team of programmers for Dubai's launch festival. We realise that the programmers are a critical component in the success of any aspiring international film festival and we have searched around the world to bring the best to Dubai."

The festival programme and programmers for each section are as follows:

Arabian Nights: A selection of films by the world's best Arab filmmakers showcasing the state of the art of contemporary Arab cinema. (Programmer: Masoud Amralla Al Ali)

"Operation Cultural Bridge": The new millennium has seen a significant increase in global conflict and misunderstanding. This section will feature a selection of films from around the world, which serve to tear down walls of inter-racial prejudice and intolerance and build cross-cultural bridges. (Programmer: Noah Cowan, Assistant Programmer: Neil Stephenson)

Bollywood Meets Hollywood: This programme will include a selection of Bollywood classics and new crossover films produced or inspired by Bollywood for an international audience. (Programmer: Uma da Cunha)

Cinema from the Subcontinent: This programme is interested in showcasing new works of excellence from emerging young filmmakers from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. (Programmer: Hannah Fisher)

Destination Documentary: "The Horse, the Falcon and the Desert": The 2004 edition of this section will celebrate films that shine a spotlight on the precious natural assets of the planet that remind viewers of the importance of nature and of environmental conservation and habitat protection. (Programmer: Lucia Rikaki)

Hi-Tech Hollywood: A selection of releases from the studios of the film capital of the world which show off the increasingly important role of computer technology and high-tech know-how in today's films and which convincingly transport audiences into compelling new worlds. (Programmer: Noah Cowan)

Contemporary World Cinema: From Moscow to Teheran to Manila: This segment is wide in its scope and welcomes interesting new works from independent filmmakers across the globe. For its 2004 edition, however, the festival is particularly interested in attracting works of cinematic excellence by filmmakers from Eastern Europe, Iran and the Philippines. (Programmer: Sheila Whitaker, Assistant Programmer: Antonia Carver)

Arabian Shorts: A selection of short films from across the Arab world including works of excellence by promising UAE filmmakers. These shorts will either contain a distinct Arabian theme or will be directed/produced by young, emerging Arab filmmakers. (Programmer: Mohamed Maklouf, Tony Sloman, Assistant Programmer: Masoud Amralla Al Ali)

"Screen on the Green": A Celebration of Omar Sharif: A sidebar collection of four classic films from this celebrated Arab actor to be screened under the stars in the open-air amphitheatre of Dubai Media City. (Programme Curator: Tony Sloman)

"Directors in the Spotlight": This will be a special retrospective sidebar highlighting the work of a distinguished movie director from the Arab world, as well as an eminent director from Bollywood and Hollywood. Two celebrated films from each director will be showcased. (Programme Coordinator: Claudia Landsberger, Programming Advisers: Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Hannah Fisher and Uma da Cunha)

Abdulhamid Juma, the CEO of Dubai Media City, said he hoped that the festival would grow steadily over the coming years to join the ranks of the world's leading film festivals. For now, the focus was on creating a strong local event and building a loyal and enthusiastic local audience, he said.

Juma also emphasised the inclusiveness of the festival and said that it would be an annual cultural event, which would belong to all the people of Dubai.

The Festival Director and CEO, Neil Stephenson, commented: "I am very proud to be associated with these respected international programmers and am confident that they will assist our festival in quickly gaining international recognition and growing into an important event on the international festival calendar."

Source: Khaleej Times

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Interview: Lucia Rikaki, programmer, DIFF

Dubai adds programmers (Variety magazine)