VOX POP: DIFF receives thumbs up from delegates

Visiting filmmakers rate the 2009 instalment of DIFF.
Interviews, Broadcast Business

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Shirin Neshat
Iranian film director based in New York.

Very fulfilling! The sense of organisation and hospitality is far here better than at most of the European festivals. The European ones are chaotic. What I like about DIFF is that we see a lot of diverse talent; Arabs, Indians, Asians, Europeans. We always show our films in New York and Europe but it is to a different kind of audience with a different mindset. But we also have this deep desire to communicate with the East and this is why I wanted to come to the festival. This is the first time I’ve shown my film to a Muslim community and the response has been phenomenal. We see that people here are hungry for movies. I didn’t realise that there was a large Iranian community out here. It was really good to see that many of them came to see the film and many of them asked very intelligent questions.

(Neshat’s film Women Without Men screened at DIFF to a packed house and won the silver Lion at the Venice International Film Festival.)

Nicolas Wadimoff
Co-producer of Fix Me & owner of AKKA Films, Switzerland.

Very good! This is the first time I’ve attended the Dubai International Film Festival and I must say it is a very interesting event. I have made some really good contacts here. My film, Fix Me, which is a co-production between Palestinian, Swiss and French filmmakers and shot on HD, was screened at DIFF and we had a very good response. The film will also screen at Sundance.

We have had a lot of proposals abroad but were looking to see if we would get better deals here. We have had some fruitful meetings with sales agents at the Dubai Film Market.

I’m originally from Switzerland but have had a close personal link with the Arab world for many years now and work closely with Palestinian producers. I believe cinema works in a way in which politics cannot. We won a cash prize for Fix Me at DIFF two years ago so it was good to screen the film this year at the festival. We are also working on my next film entitled Aisheen.

I came here especially to participate in the Film Connection and was interested in one of the films introduced at this edition of DIFF. I may be a co-producer for a project that was introduced through Dubai Film Connection this year.
I hope to come back next year to DIFF.

Al Sikander
Aspiring filmmaker and actor from London.

I love it! It’s my first time at DIFF and was there from December 9th to the 13th. I now regret that I’m not staying here any longer as I have found this to be a really useful event. I’m an aspiring filmmaker. I have made some small stock but not enough to call myself an established player. I have met some very nice people and seen some amazing work at the event.

I go to a few festivals. I went to Cannes this year and it’s painfully huge. DIFF is more comfortable and less stressful for filmmakers such as myself.

I am currently working on a trilogy of sorts and hope to shoot one part in Dubai, so I hope to explore this city further.

Haifaa Al Mansour
Saudi filmmaker and winner of the Shahsha Grant from ADFC.

Great! I’m here on an exchange programme from the Torino Film Lab in Italy. I’ve been to DIFF before and it’s always good to see the way this event supports local filmmakers. I’m essentially here to package and give my film Wajda, which is in development, further exposure. DIFF has matured tremendously and given local talent a great chance for visibility. Saudi Arabia, where I come from, is also now getting its own film festival and although we come from a culture that is underrepresented, it is gradually gaining importance.

I’ve realised that in the business of making movies, there’s a lot of marketing and talking involved. I’m here to do that.

(Al Mansour won the US $100,000 Shasha Grant from the Abu Dhabi Film Commission in 2009).

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