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Anticipation, excitement at Dubai Fest program unveiling

Organizers Deliver on Promise of Bigger, Better Second Dubai International Film Festival: DIFF team announces 6 world premieres

Seven days, 98 films from 46 countries and a galaxy of the film elite from the Arab world, Asia, Europe and the Americas – the building blocks of the second Dubai International Film Festival generated much excitement today when Festival organizers unveiled the entire 2005 line-up for the first time at DIFF epicenter Madinat Jumeirah.

Building rapidly on the success of the 2004 inaugural edition, the December 11 – 17 Festival features a wide array of programming, with six world premieres and seven international premieres confirmed for the week-long event.

This year’s program roster, almost 30 percent larger than its predecessor, includes award-winning films from the top international film festivals of Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, London and Sundance, as well as several contenders for the next Academy Awards.

Festival Director and CEO Neil Stephenson said the global diversity in this year’s programming was a major step in reinforcing the “cultural bridge” theme underpinning the entire event.

“Our cultural bridge is a two-way bridge, and we are reinforcing it in both directions by bringing the best of world cinema to Dubai, and taking the best of Arab cinema to the world from Dubai,” Stephenson said. “Our new Africa, Asia and Europe sections, and two new Arab sections have been put in place as a testament to our dedication to bridging cultures through film.”

“Cinema is a universal language meant to illuminate and educate, not just entertain,” Stephenson added. “Our program aims to hit all of these notes, and reflects both the changing state of our world and the lessons we learned from our first festival last year.”

Leading the pack are the six world premieres, including the eagerly anticipated Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World; war documentary Kosovo: The Hand of Friendship, Indian arthouse film Sringaram Sri Lankan post-tsunami drama From Dust, Palestinian short film Yasmin’s Song and UAE-based Arabian wildlife documentary Under a Desert Sun.

DIFF organizers also announced the six gala films that will crown the Festival. The Festival will open at 8 pm on December 11 with the award-winning Palestinian suicide bomber drama Paradise Now, and subsequent galas include the controversial Indo-Canadian film Water, Cannes Palme D’or winner L’Enfant (The Child), brand new American thriller Edison, and the stirring African smash hit U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, before the closing double-bill gala of musical comedy West Bank Story and powerful French drama Joyeux Noel. Each gala film is drawn from a DIFF flagship program.

The list of international celebrity attendees is evidence of the international confidence in the Dubai Film Festival, Stephenson added. That list is currently topped by Oscar-winning American actor Morgan Freeman, making his second appearance at the Festival; legendary Indian producer Yash Chopra; and Egyptian superstar Adel Imam.

Other A-list names include Egyptian actors Noor Sherif, Yousra, Hanan Turk and Mona Zaki, Tunisian star Hind Sabri, French-Algerian rai singer Faudel, Greek director Constantin Costa-Gavras, British director Michael Caton Jones, American actors Albert Brooks, Dylan McDermott and Jon Tenney, British actor Hugh Dancy, Indian actors John Abraham and Lisa Ray and international activist-musician Sir Bob Geldof.

The all-star list is expected to grow in the coming days, as confirmations and travel schedules are finalized.

DIFF organizers also announced the opening of Festival Box Offices today, in locations including the Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai Media City, Deira City Centre and Mall of the Emirates. Tickets can also be purchased on the Dubai Film Festival web site or by calling the Festival hotline on (04) 367-6701.

The Dubai International Film Festival 2005 will be held between December 11 and 17, 2005, and will feature 98 films including features, retrospectives and short films. DIFF 2005 is divided into 12 distinct programs - including five brand new additions - each focusing on a particular category of film.

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