The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) today announced that it will launch an annual international critics prize awarded by Fipresci, the International Federation of Film Critics.

The award will be given to the best feature film in DIFF's Muhr Awards for Excellence in Arab Cinema and is the first time it will be granted to an Arab film. It will be presented at DIFF 2008, the festival's fifth year.

Fipresci, regarded as the foremost body of film writers, academics and critics from over 60 countries around the world, was invited by DIFF to consider the new category to further the festival's successful Muhr Awards, now in its third year.

The Fipresci prize promotes film as an art form and encourages new and upcoming talent. The DIFF award will be bestowed by a jury of five known film critics presided over by renowned French critic Jean Roy Paris.

Masoud Amralla Al Ali, DIFF Artistic Director, welcomed the credibility that an award as prestigious as Fipresci, gave to the festival and Arab film: 'This award represents international recognition that up and coming Arab cinema will continue to grow in the years to come, as the industry matures and the infrastructure improves. DIFF is at the forefront of this trend and we salute Fipresci, for recognizing our region's contribution to world cinema.'

Klaus Eder, General Secretary of Fipresci, welcomed the opportunity to become better acquainted with Arab cinema. 'As film critics, it is our interest and pleasure to support national cinema in all its forms and diversity. Therefore, we enthusiastically welcome the offer to come with a jury to Dubai, a festival that presents a wonderful overview of recent Arab production,' Eder said.

The organization will also host a panel discussion during DIFF 2008 on the role of Arab Cinema and its impact on the global arena. The fifth edition of the Dubai International Film Festival will run from December 11-18, 2008.