'Arabian Nights' strand aims to promote local talent

LONDON — Dubai Media City, media arm of the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone, has announced the launch of the inaugural Dubai Intl. Film Festival, to run Dec. 6-11.

Under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Defense Minister, the event promises to “build cultural bridges and promote peace” through film. This concern is mirrored in Operation Cultural Bridge, a section of 15 films dedicated to building “cross-border and cross-cultural bridges in the post-Sept. 11 era.”

Fest will feature 80 pics including six nightly gala screenings at the new Madinat Jumeirah Arabian Resort. Majority of the work will be from local UAE and Arab filmmakers as the fledgling fest aims to take root in the local community. Main program includes Arabian Nights, a selection of 20 works by contemporary Arab filmmakers and a sidebar of 30 shorts by promising young Arabian helmers.

The program is not exclusively local in content, and Hi-Tech Hollywood promises five big studio pics. The Contemporary World Cinema section includes work from independent European, Filipino and Iranian filmmakers.

Dubai Media City was opened in January 2001 by the Crown Prince and aims to become the region’s media hub. It benefits from its strategic location at the crossroads of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. CNN has established a regional news bureau in Dubai Media City and pan-Arabic broadcaster MBC has chosen to relocate its headquarters from London to Dubai.

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