DIFF rebuffs rumours of downsizing

Festival unveils new initiatives to boost Arab cinema
DIFF is placing a strong focus on helping Arab filmmakers find distributors.
DIFF is placing a strong focus on helping Arab filmmakers find distributors.


Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) has rebuffed rumours published in US magazine Variety that the upcoming edition of the festival had been “downsized”.

“Contrary to recent reports the Dubai International Film Festival has not been downsized,” Shivani Pandya, managing director of DIFF said in a statement.

Pandya said that far from downsizing, the festival has simply modified the format – something the management of DIFF has done throughout the festival’s decade-long history.

“Following the decennial edition we have simply revised the format of the festival to heighten the significance placed on its founding principles and bring regional cinema into sharper focus," he said.

"As the landscape in the Arab world continues to evolve, we have reviewed how we can further support Arab filmmakers and improve the visibility of Arab productions. This will guarantee the continuous growth of DIFF in strength, size and stature. We believe that the new initiatives introduced this year will continue to contribute to drive industry growth, build audiences and a vibrant film culture in the UAE.”

The Variety article apparently made the assumption that the festival was downsizing based on DIFF’s decision to drop certain segments including Dubai Film Connection co-production platform and the Muhr Asia/Africa Awards section.

However, in an interview with Digital Studio in October, Abdulhamid Juma, chairman and CEO of DIFF, was bullish about the upcoming event. He said that a major new focus of the festival this year is to help local filmmakers to partner with distributors to ensure their films gain a pan-regional audience.

“We have really looked differently at how we are going to help those filmmakers distribute the films in a better way,” Juma said.

To this end, Juma and his team have been busy in discussions with film distributors such as Gulf Film, VOX, Front Row Film Entertainment and Kuwait National Cinema, developing plans to ensure that more UAE-produced films will be shown at cinemas in the region beyond the festival screenings. The idea is to encourage each of these distributors to talk to the filmmakers and agree to distribute a film from the festival “in the Middle East and beyond”.

“We are signing with actual distribution companies, pushing them and working with the film makers. It really is a tangible thing, not just some open idea. That is really the big change for us this year,” Juma said.


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