DUBAI – The Dubai International Film Festival has become the first Middle East fest to become qualified to have its films compete in the short film category at the Oscars, just as the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences expands its international outreach.
The announcement was made on Sunday at the Dubai film market by an AMPAS delegation (pictured) attending the fest, which is becoming the world’s most prominent Arab cinema launching pad.
Winning entries at Dubai’s Muhr Arab and Muhr Asia/Africa shorts sections will be eligible starting from the 2015 Oscars, because submissions for the upcoming Academy Awards on March 2, 2014, are already closed.
The Academy said: “OK, if you are a filmmaker and you play at the Dubai film festival you qualify,” said Sid Ganis, the former AMPAS prexy, now chairman of the AMPAS international committee.
Actually, entries that win a prize within Dubai’s Muhr Emirati shorts section will not qualify for Oscar consideration. But that’s because that section is really more of a breeding ground, while the more prominent works by Emirati directors go into the Muhr Arab section.
This year’s Muhr Asia/Africa shorts include entries from Turkey, Ghana, India and China, in line with Dubai’s ongoing efforts to nurture cinema from emerging markets.
There are about seventy film fests around the world from where prizewinning shorts can be submitted for Oscar consideration.
Unlike feature films, which have to be released theatrically to qualify, with shorts qualification is determined by being a prizewinner at a qualifying festival.
Dubai is the latest addition to the expanding AMPAS international outreach program, which in the Middle East has previously involved ties to Iran. Ganis and an AMPAS delegation travelled to Tehran in 2009, “the first American arts group to go to Iran since the 1979 revolution,” noted Ellen Harrington, Academy Museum Director of Exhibitions and Collections, during the Dubai presentation.
Vicangelo Bulluck, Academy Managing Director of Outreach and Strategic Initiatives, underlined at the panel that AMPAS is making a greater effort to comply with its charter to be a worldwide organization.
“We are starting to focus on the filmmaking communities in India and China, and here in the Middle East,” he said.
The AMPAS delegation in Dubai also includes directors Ava DuVernay and Shekhar Kapur.
The recently forged rapport between AMPAS and the fest will also involve a showcase of Arab films travelling to the U.S.
The 10 Dubai fest runs through Dec. 14.