The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) is expanding its co-production market, Dubai Film Connection, with a focus on documentary films.

The focus will include a $25,000 prize from DIFF, along with ear-marked funds from regional and international partners and a series of collaborations with partners including the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival.

As part of Copenhagen’s DOX: LAB training programme, three filmmakers from the Middle East will be selected to develop film projects alongside three filmmakers from Denmark. The programme will include a workshop in Copenhagen and an invitation to present the joint projects at the Dubai Film Connection in December 2011.

Middle Eastern documentary filmmakers can also access a $15,000 award offered by Screen Institute Beirut, and all applicants to Dubai Film Connection will be considered for awards from DIFF and ARTE France.

“With the recent rise in documentary filmmaking and events around the world sparking debate, we feel that this is an important category that is worthy of recognition and encouragement within the Arab world,” said DIFF managing director Shivani Pandya.

DIFF is holding the fifth edition of Dubai Film Connection from December 8-11. The deadline for documentary and feature projects is August 1, 2011.