The fifth edition of the festival, which wrapped up December18, 2008, featured 181 films from 66 countries and saw a total of 47 500 movie-goers stream into DIFF screenings. Approximately a 1000 international and local industry professionals took part in networking events and seminars. Celebrity attendance was also impressive, with heavy-hitters Ben Affleck, Salma Hayek, Abdulhussein Abdulredha, Sameer Sabri, Jamal Suleiman, Goldie Hawn, Preity Zinta, Abhishek Bachchan, Lebleba and Nicolas Cage among many others gracing the red carpet.
Abdulhamid Juma, DIFF’s Chairman, stated: “Our fifth edition was a milestone for us, and we are thrilled that there was such an enthusiastic response to our programming and initiatives. With every year we have introduced new elements to enhance the overall festival experience, providing the best in international cinema culture for our UAE audiences, who have backed the festival since the beginning. We look forward to another promising December.” Terry Gilliam, one of the recipients of DIFF Honourees for 2008 was recently awarded the BAFTA Fellowship, considered the highest accolade at the award ceremony in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film. One Man Village and Amreeka, films supported by the Dubai Film Connection made it to Berlinale and Sundance Film Festivals respectively. 2008 Film line-up included award winning and critically successful productions such as Slumdog Millionaire, Rachel Getting Married, Gomorra and The Wrestler.
The 2008 festival built on the successes of the past years and introduced strong new initiatives, such as the revolutionary Dubai Film Market, a state of the art content-trading platform that spurred several high-level agreements between regional and international film professionals.
The Muhr Awards for Excellence in Arab Cinema, in its third successful year, gained a sibling prize in 2008, the Muhr AsiaAfrica Competition, which garnered 450 entries in its first year. Prize amounts for both segments amounted to almost USD 576, 000, among the most generous cash prizes in international film festivals.