DUBAI // Dubai International Film Festival’s funding has been confirmed until at least 2019.
Wednesday’s announcement follows weeks of speculation about funding cuts, with one respected industry publication even suggesting the festival may be shelved with budgets being redirected to Expo 2020.
Although Diff has technically shrunk in volume this year – 118 films compared with last year’s 174, mainly due to the removal of the Muhr Asia/Africa section – the organisers insist this is due to a refocusing of resources rather than any budgetary dilemma.
“Previously we just kept adding on films,” said festival managing director Shivani Pandya. “One year we were close to 200 films and we felt that we weren’t doing justice to the films, and the audiences weren’t able to see everything anyway. So we decided to focus on a really good selection of films and give the audience a chance and respect the films.
“Cannes doesn’t have hundreds of films, and we want to say to people ‘come here, watch great films’.
“We’ve been discussing this change for three years. We would have done it last year but because it was our 10th year we decided to go big, then relook at the entire strategy of the festival. We’re all really excited about where we’re going now.”
The festival has also shifted its focus away from funding the production of films and is looking instead at creating links within distribution channels.
“We want to focus on the business base of the industry,” Ms Pandya said. “Up until now we’ve done a lot of work on the development side and that isn’t really a festival’s job.
“We’re working on building links with all the main regional distributors, we’re expanding our Cinetech arm, where the industry can watch, buy and sell films online. We want to be a business destination for films, that’s where we’re headed.”