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What’s the DIFF?

What’s the DIFF?

Dubai’s film festival begins on December 11. A Kipp writer wonders: why does Dubai have a film festival when it only has a handful of Emirati filmmakers?


December 10, 2008 3:09 by

DIFF, however, is a different concept altogether. According to the official website, the festival’s mission is to “to nurture and develop local and international talent, accelerating and fostering growth of the industry, while also providing an invaluable cultural benefit to the people of Dubai and the UAE.”

Before DIFF came along, the UAE hadn’t produced a single feature film. Ever. The first Emirati feature film in Arabic, “Tarab Fashion,” was released in 2006, three years after DIFF began. It might explain why Juma says that “once the idea of the festival was approved, we faced lot of resistance. They said to us: Was there a need for another film festival? Why does Dubai, or for that matter the UAE, need a film festival when the country doesn’t have anything to do with film production?”

Indeed. Why? With no film culture, and a virtual gag order on Gulf Arabs from exposing their family and social realities, why would Dubai host an annual film festival?

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