Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) has been granted status as a qualifying film festival in the eligibility criteria for the short film category of the Academy Awards.

The move, which was announced by the Academy’s Vicangelo Bulluck at DIFF yesterday, means that short films which win best film in the festival’s Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica competition will be eligible for Oscars awards consideration.

“Dubai is now a qualifying festival for the Academy in short film in both the Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica categories,” said Bullock. Former Academy president Sid Ganis added: “If you’re a short filmmaker and win an award in Dubai, you qualify, which is very good news for filmmakers in the region.”

To be eligible for Oscars consideration, short films must either be commercially released in Los Angeles or have won a qualifying award at a festival on the Academy’s Short Film Qualifying Festival List. The list includes 75 festivals mostly in North America and Europe. Japan’s Hiroshima International Animation Festival is the only qualifying festival in Asia, Africa or the Middle East.

“We’re delighted by the news, especially as we are the only festival between Europe and Japan to qualify for this status,” said DIFF managing director Shivani Pandya.

The Academy gives Oscars to best live action short and best animated short. Short films that win at this year’s DIFF will be eligible for the 87th Academy Awards to be held in 2015.

Bulluck, Ganis and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ (AMPAS) Ellen Harrington are attending DIFF to share filmmaking expertise and explain what the Academy offers international filmmakers beyond the awards. AMPAS is hosting “An Academy Conversation on Directing” session with Shekhar Kapur and Ava DuVernay at DIFF today.