The Dubai International Film festival has announced the lineup for three of the 2008 festival segments; the Focus on Italy section, the Cultural Bridge, and the Gulf Voices section.

Each of the three sections provides a perspective on different cultural and regional contributions to cinema or society.

Focus on Italy

The Focus on Italy segment recognises the longstanding and ongoing contribution of Italy to cinema.

Sheila Whitaker, DIFF's Director of International Programmes said: 'Italy has been a cinema-lover's paradise since the earliest days of cinema. At DIFF this year we want to celebrate the vibrant energy of Italian film and offer festival goers a chance to see these art house films by new talents from Europe that are surely ones not to be missed.'

The films in this section include: Matteo Garrone's acclaimed Gomorrah ; Gomorrah screenwriter Gianni Di Gregorio's Pranzo di Ferragosto ; Francesco Munzi's second feature Il Resto Della Notte; Italian director Paolo Sorrentino's Il Divo; and Marco Pontecorvo's debut feature, Pa Ra Da.

Cultural Bridges

Two of the Focus on Italy films, Pa Ra Da and Il Divo are also featured in the Cultural Bridge section which spotlights films that deal with social differences but promote a spirit of inclusiveness.

This section includes: Uberto Pasolini's, Machan; El Sistema from Paul Smaczny & Maria Stodtmeier ; Chus Gutierrez' Return to Hansala; Charles Martin Smith's The Stone of Destiny; Sima Urales', Apron Strings; Heart of Jenin from Leon Geller and Marcus Vetter; and award-winning documentarian Anthony Fabian's narrative debut Skin, which has been selected as the Gala film for this section.

Hannah Fisher, who programmes the Cultural Bridge segment, explained her choices for the 2008 edition of DIFF: 'Our goal is to create a lasting impact, and to prove without doubt that one solitary person can move mountains. Seven of the films selected this year are based on true events, and the stories they tell will reach out to viewers by speaking of mutual humanity, compassion, and hope in the face of adversity,' Fisher said.

Gulf Voices

Finally, the Gulf Voices' section highlights the best and brightest contributions by local and regional filmmakers. This section supports the festival's mandate of promoting regional cinema to a worldwide audience.

Its programme is an addition to the previous Emirati lineup, and opens the door to participation from other Gulf Countries.

The section comprises feature, short and documentary projects, and represents talent from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

The UAE leads in the number of entries with five films: animated short 'Hammer & Nails' by Hamad Alawar; Khalid Al Mahmood's 'Bint Al Nokhitha' ; Saeed al Dhaheri's 'The Rescue' ; Naser Al Yaqoobi's documentary 'Mountain Sheik' and Asma Ahmad; and a further documentary fromAisha Mohammed al Muhairi, 'Mission of Hope'.

The other Gulf countries represented in the segment are: Oman with Dawood and Yasir al Kiyumi's short thriller, ' Realism Beats ,'; Kuwait's ' Paradoxes' by Meqdad al Kout; Saudi Arabia's entry ' Rain (Matar)' by Abdullah al-Eyaf; Qatar's Khalid al Mahmoud with 'Terrorism-Tourism ,'; and 'Personal Calendar' , Basheer al Majid's exploration of sectarian divisions in Iraq.

DIFF will also honour three outstanding Emirati talents with rewards for their contribution to the emerging industry in the UAE. Their nomination does not depend on them having a project that is participating in DIFF that year.

The awards will be given at the Muhr Awards ceremony, and will comprise the categories of 'Best Emirati Talent,' 'Best Emirati Director,' and 'Best Emirati Female Director.'