DUBAI Abdulhamid Juma, Chairman of Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) has expressed his ambitions to make Dubai a top global desitination for films and media. Abdul Hamid Juma was talking to Khaleej Times in an interview. “The idea is to make DIFF 2008 an unforgettable experience for film lovers,” he said to the interviewer.
“This is our fifth season and a milestone year for DIFF, which is reflected in the number of films to be screened at the festival,” he made a point.
“When we started out in 2004, the festival showcased 76 films from 24 countries. This year, we have 181 films from 66 countries,” says Juma, he however, denies the picturesque location of the office at DMC has been any inspiration in putting the DIFF events with great finesse year after year. “I hardly have the time to sit back and enjoy the surroundings,“ he says.
“Cinema is my passion. I love to travel to various film festivals around the globe, both in official and personal capacities. This helps learn and introduce some new flavours and elements into the festival each year,” he reveals.
The DIFF 2008, which opens December 11 and runs until December 18, promises to unveil a milestone version of Dubai’s favourite cultural event and one that is increasingly prominent on the world stage.
“The film festival first took off in 2004 and since then there has been no looking back,” quips the man who is now synonymous with DIFF.
Aside from a galaxy of stars set to grace the fest, including Nicolas Cage, Brendan Fraser, Salma Hayek, Goldie Hawn, Laura Linney, Danny Glover, Abhishek Bachchan, Preity Zinta, Anil Kapoor, a heavy concentration of filmmakers will also be making their presence felt this year. The award-winning director Oliver Stone (Batman Begins) and The Dark Knight producer Charles Roven, Oscar-nominated director Deepa Mehta and Rang De Basanti director Rakesh Omprakash Mehra are just some of the top brass who will bring their expertise to the country, and maybe, even a few film projects in the near future.
Taking pride in DIFF’s popularity with filmmakers and stars, that has perhaps surpassed many a film festival in the region, the DIFF chairman notes: “We’ve been able to successfully put together a professional team of around 700, comprising full-time and part-time staff as well as volunteers. With the support of the Dubai government, we have succeeded in putting through the film festival with all its glamour and seriousness. “The idea of hosting a film festival in Dubai first took seed in the minds of people in the 90’s. In 2003, when the idea came from a man called Mahmoud Sipra, who was then heading a company called Premier, I immediately took it up and started to put plans together in my capacity as the CEO of DMC,” he says, disclosing how he got involved with the festival.
With no experience at film making himself, Juma says, he is a big believer in destiny and firmly believes that nothing happens in life without a reason.
More details and movies shown on DIFF from 11th December to 18th December 2008 click here