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Abu Dhabi’s Middle East International Film Festival to launch new section: Afaq Jadida (New Horizons) Competition, dedicated to first and second feature-length narrative and documentary films from all over the world

Abu Dhabi, UAE — April 5, 2010

With submissions now open for its 2010 program, Abu Dhabi’s Middle East International Film Festival announced today a new competitive section for fiction and nonfiction feature films by first- and second-time directors. To be called the Afaq Jadida (New Horizons) Competition, this section will focus on the work of new talents from all over the Arab world shown side-byside with that of their international counterparts. Films in the competition will vie for MEIFF’s Black Pearl Awards for Best New Narrative Film, Best New Narrative Film from the Arab World, Best New Documentary, Best New Documentary from the Arab World, each with a $100,000 cash prize. In 2009, Best New Director prizes of $50,000 each were given to films within the festival’s existing Narrative and Documentary Competitions, but the new awards, to be determined by a separate jury for the new section, will be open to a greater number of films than in the past.

"Given the growing vibrancy of young filmmakers in the region, and the great interest shown by the international industry community, we simply wanted to make the Middle East International Film Festival even more of a driving force in terms of opportunity, recognition and networking for new talent in both fiction and nonfiction films," declared Eissa Saif Rashed Al-Mazrouei, Project Director of MEIFF.

The Afaq Jadida (New Horizons) Competition will make its debut alongside the existing Narrative and Documentary Competitions for feature-length films. Each of the three competitions will be judged by its own jury composed of high-profile creators and professionals from the region and around the world who will chose the winners of the Black Pearl Awards, including awards for the best films from the Arab world.

MEIFF Executive Director Peter Scarlet noted the impetus for this new competition: "During my last year’s travel with colleagues through the region, as we set out to assemble a program of new films, we had many opportunities to meet young filmmakers and to April!5,!2010!


exchange thoughts and ideas. Not infrequently we found ourselves surrounded by an incredible energy and a stunning creativity, by a burning desire to tell good stories, to make films that could be faithful to their own identity but could at the same time appeal to a universal audience. Already at MEIFF 09, we'd determined to make sure that half the films in our narrative and documentary competitions came from the Middle East and North Africa, and eleven of them were by new talents. It seemed to us that creating a separate competition for these bright new voices would offer them more exposure and would further the aim of the festival to be a place of discovery of exciting new voices."

MEIFF 2010 will also present two separate competitive sections devoted to short films and another competition focused on work by filmmakers from the UAE or GGC countries.

Additionally, a Showcase section offers a further glimpse of important contributions to filmmaking around the world today with screenings of some of the best examples of international cinema, contending for the Black Pearl Audience Choice Award.

Films devoted to broadening public awareness of significant environmental issues are presented in a sidebar called “What in the world are we doing to our world?"

And, finally, a Special Programs section includes restorations and rediscoveries, as well as presentations devoted to exposing exciting new developments and trends in international filmmaking.

As in previous years, the prize money associated with MEIFF’s Black Pearl Awards totals $1 million.

Submissions are now open for the fourth edition of MEIFF, to be held October 14 – 23, 2010, in Abu Dhabi. Narrative and documentary features as well as short films in all genres will be accepted until July 1, 2010, when entries close.

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Complete information regarding at www.meiff.com/info/submissions

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The Middle East International Film Festival (MEIFF) was established in 2007 in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, with the aim of helping to create a vibrant film culture throughout the region. The event, presented each October by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) under the patronage of H.E. Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, is committed to curating exceptional programs to engage and educate the local community, inspire filmmakers and nurture the growth of the regional film industry.

As the only festival in the region where works by Arab filmmakers are presented in competition – "at the same table" – with those by the major talents, old and new, of world cinema, MEIFF offers Abu Dhabi's diverse, cosmopolitan and enthusiastic audiences a means of connecting with their own and others' cultures through the art of cinema. At the same time, a strong focus on the bold new voices of Arab cinema connects with Abu Dhabi's role as a burgeoning cultural capital in the region and marks MEIFF as a place for the world to discover and gauge the pulse of recent Arab filmmaking.

For questions regarding entries email entries@meiff.com or call + 971 2 417 74 44.

To contact the press office email press@meiff.com or call + 971506146653.

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MEIFF Announces New Horizons Competition