The airport retailing giant is the presenting sponsor of the festival which features nine movies over two Dublin venues, Lighthouse Cinema and the Chester Beatty Library. Jumeirah Group, the Dubai-based international luxury hotel chain is a supporting sponsor of the festival and together with Dubai Duty Free is helping to bring a taste of Arab film and culture to Dublin for the first time.
The festival opened this Thursday, (8th May) at Light House Cinema when legendary actor, Omar Sharif will come to town for a special screening of the Golden Globe nominated Monsieur Ibrahim (2003). The acting legend, whose films include the classics Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago and Funny Girl, will introduce the film directed by Francois Dupeyron. The film tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a teenage boy and an elderly grocery store owner, played by Sharif himself.
Six-time Academy Award nominee Jim Sheridan serves as president of DAFF and together with festival director Zhara Moufid is one of the main organizers of the festival. Jim headed up the jury for the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) last year and was inspired by the cinematic talent and great movies being created in the region, this led him to bring the festival to Ireland in order to allow Irish people the chance to experience Arabian culture in an entertaining and engaging way. “This is the first really good year for Arab cinema worldwide with three Arab films nominated in separate categories at this year’s Academy Awards”, he said. “We are looking forward to a positive reaction from Irish audiences.”
Colm McLoughlin, the Executive Vice Chairman of presenting sponsor, Dubai Duty Free said, “There is already a close connection between Ireland and the UAE and it is important to continually build on our core business and cultural relationships. Dubai Duty Free is the title sponsor of the Irish Derby since 2008 and in tandem with our sports sponsorship, we felt that the time was right to support a cultural event. Through our sponsorship of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), we have seen that film is a great medium that crosses cultural divides and creates greater understanding and awareness.
Colm went on to say, “Congratulations to Jim Sheridan for making DAFF a reality and I am sure that this festival will grow for many years to come.”Fellow Dubai sponsor, Gerald Lawless, President and CEO of Jumeirah Group, said: “Jumeirah Group is proud to support the first Dublin Arabic Film Festival (DAFF). Given the strong links between Ireland and the Arab world it is appropriate that this festival is taking place in Dublin. Jumeirah has long been a supporter of the arts and has been a principal sponsor of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) at Madinat Jumeirah since its inception 10 years ago. At DAFF, film lovers will be offered a unique glimpse into the Arab world and we look forward to supporting the event and watching it develop further over the coming years.”
Movies over the festival will include Monsieur Ibrahim, Horses of God, Rags and Tatters, Homeland, Lawrence of Arabia, They Are the Dogs, The Lion of the Desert, Omar and The Jacoubian Building. Apart from Omar Sharif special guests will also include Egyptian director Ahmad Abdalla’s who directed Rags and Tatters, a drama about the Tahrir Square protests. The movie earned positive reviews in the international press and won the Grand Prix at the Montpellier Film Festival.
DIFF Chairman, Abdulhamid Juma commented: “We were extremely honoured that Jim Sheridan, one the most prolific filmmakers of the last two decades joined us for our 10th edition as Head of the Jury for the Muhr Arab Feature Competition. We all benefitted from his wealth of experience in the industry and we are delighted that he is shining the spotlight on Arab cinema by launching the Dublin Arabic Film Festival (DAFF), the first event of its kind in his native Ireland. It was great recognition for all the filmmakers that Jim was so impressed at the quality of Arab cinema screened at DIFF last year in particular DIFF’s Enjaaz supported film Omar, by Hany Abu Assad which was awarded Best Film and Best Director and has been selected for DAFF’s closing night film. This event will further raise the profile of Arab cinema on the world stage and we hope that the audiences are captivated by the richness of Arabic storytelling – we wish them all the very best.”