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The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) closed its 12th edition on a high announcing a ten per cent increase over 2014 attendance with over 55,782 members of the community turning out to watch an impressive slate of international, regional and local films over the eight day event. The highly anticipated return of the Festival for 2016 has been confirmed to take place December 7 – 14, 2016 at Madinat Jumeirah, the home of DIFF.

With 134 films showcased from 60 countries, including 55 world and international premieres, 46 MENA premieres, 11 Middle East premieres and 17 GCC premieres, the 12th edition cemented its status as one of Conde Nast World Traveller’s Top 10 Film Festivals with overwhelmingly positive feedback from attendees.

The exceptional slate of films screened at DIFF’s 12th edition has received 21 Oscar nominations for the upcoming 88th Academy Awards and has won 1 Golden Globe, 8 Critics Choice Awards and 2 Screen Actors Guild Awards. The 2015 Festival featured some of the most critically-acclaimed films of the year including DIFF’s closing film ‘The Big Short’ which has received five Oscar nominations and picked up the top prize at the Producers Guild Awards. DIFF’s opening night film ‘Room’ can count a Golden Globe,  Critics Choice Award and Screen Actors Guild Award  for ‘Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture’ for Brie Larson and the Critics Choice Award for Best Young Actor for Jacob Tremblay amongst its accolades already this year and heads to the Oscars with 4 nominations. From DIFF’s Muhr Competition Basil Khalil’s ‘Ave Maria’ which picked up Best Muhr Short also heads to the Oscars next month as a front runner in his category.

“The 12th edition of the Festival was an exciting event in which over 55,000 filmmakers and festival goers came together to share their love of film. The line-up of innovative and powerful films from the perspectives of filmmakers from over 60 countries touched our hearts, educated us, and provided a window into what makes people different, and also what makes people the same. Now more than ever cinema is the most powerful art form – an ideal catalyst for change, it plays a significant role to develop a better understanding and mutual respect for people from different cultures around the world,” said DIFF’s Chairman Abdulhamid Juma.

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He continued, “Year on year, DIFF strives to support the growth of Arab cinema, we screened an impressive bill of more than 70 films from the region many of which tackled pressing issues head-on, winning critical praise and I am delighted to see them go on to international festivals around the world and present at the Oscars this year. Oscar wins for ‘Theeb’ (Foreign Language Film category) and ‘Ave Maria’ (Short Film category) would be momentous achievements for Naji Abu Nowar and Basil Khalil and a colossal win for Arab cinema on a whole. We wish Naji and Basil and the teams all the best. Throughout the year we will continue to join forces with industry partners to promote local film with the #SupportArabCinema campaign which launched during the Festival. These are milestones to be celebrated and we look forward to continuing to build on those achievements at the 13th edition later this year.”

Marking a new level of industry engagement, the Dubai Film Market, the leading industry platform for Arab cinema and business epicenter of the Festival, saw more than 3,300 industry representatives, media and film professionals from 62 countries attend its panel sessions. These included a satellite panel with Chief Content Officer of Netflix, Ted Sarandos, on the company’s plans for its Middle East roll-out which launched last month. The Market’s continued high level of service for the filmmakers, buyers, sellers and distributors in attendance was reflected in guest feedback of an impressive 92 % stating they were overall satisfied with the event.

At the same time the Dubai Film Connection (DFC) returned to award USD 80,000 in funds and partnership opportunities to help regional filmmakers bring their work to the silver screen. It witnessed an impressive 336 meetings over three days and more than 1,400 attendees participating in forum sessions.

Included amongst the Festival highlights were the free film screenings at The Beach, JBR, whose eight days of enchantment saw crowds flock to be part of the excitement which included a Q&A by treasured ‘JAWS’ star Richard Dreyfuss and a special performance from The Idol winner, Mohammad Assaf.  Hany Abu-Assad’s ‘The Idol’ was one of fifteen Enjaaz-supported films that were showcased to the global stage at the 12th Festival and also took home the Emirates NBD People’s Choice Award.

The final day of DIFF featured the esteemed Muhr Awards, which celebrate the best in local and regional short and feature films from the year and was held at the Madinat Theatre. The awards were chosen by an internationally acclaimed jury, including Oscar nominated screenwriter, director and producer Deepa Mehta and presented by His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Following the Awards, Jake Gyllenhaal’s intimate ‘In Conversation’ was held to a capacity crowd, during which he received the Variety ‘International Star of the Year’ Award from Vice-President, Executive Editor of Variety, Steven Gaydos.

The 13th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival will be held December 7-14, 2016. For more information, please visit www.diff.ae.

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