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Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.

Dubai International Film Festival



  • “Lead in building cultural understanding through creative achievement in film.”
  • “Celebrate excellence in cinema, using it as a medium to promote open dialogue between cultures and nations. 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.”

Dubai International Film Festival

Funding is always a challenge for most festivals in the world, but then again, Dubai isn't like most places in the world. The Emirate (basically a city state ruled by an Emir that forms part of the United Arab Emirates, a cluster of monarch-ruled metropolises) is blessed with scads of its neighbor's petro dollars. Nevertheless, reality has hit and the once high flying Emirate is facing billions of debt. So far, the festival has maintained a gilded facade. While Dubai is still in its relative infancy, it has managed to lure A-listers from the world over, and why not? If the festival sends out an invitation, you'll live well - maybe not like the Emir himself, but very well indeed. In recent years, a large chunk of filmmakers, press, and industry have flown business class on the Emirate's own airline called, well, Emirates (though the fest may need to limit those biz class tickets because of the new realities). The festival also puts you up in one of the city's world class resorts. On top of that, the fest has hosted a sumptuous daily lunch at its main venue and guests are treated to a daily breakfast. If you're not stuffed, just get yourself invited to one of the festival's lavish parties where food is yours for the asking. Actually, living well in Dubai at the festival is much cheaper then staying at home. So what's not to like? Well, for every Yin, there at least has to be a bit of a Yang... While to date, we've never heard anyone not liking their hotel, everything is relative and any invitee should try to stay within the Jermiah Beach Resort complex. The festival headquarters is there (as well as the free lunch) as are most of the nightly parties. Other guests (including most press) end up at the more distant Habtoor, which again is certainly not a dump by any means, but it is distant and it seems like it's perpetually surrounded by a massive construction zone. The festival does provide pretty adequate free transportation, but as with nearly every festival we've visited in the world that has venues beyond walking distance - if there's going to be any bummer to the festival experience it's transportation, and that still holds true for an enchanted oasis in the desert like Dubai. No matter where you stay, most screenings are at the massive Mall of the Emirates, so getting there will involve an automobile. One nice thing, though, even if the festival shuttle is annoyingly absent, the city's taxis are surprisingly cheap. Filmmakers with the expectation of having a great experience showing their films and also living it up won't be disappointed, but even though this fest might attract some hot shots, don't expect that you'll be mingling with them much. Some have complained that while the festival treats all its guests well, it really does come down to who the city can attract that will splash across the world's gossip rags to enhance the magic - and the glam factor - of Dubai.

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