The 6th Gulf Film Festival (GFF) has announced it will screen 169 films later this month for free to the public and will host the inaugural Gulf Film Market.

Features from 43 countries will be shown at Grand Cinemas in Dubai Festival City from April 11-17.

The festival will host 78 world premieres, 15 international premieres and 42 Middle East premieres.

It will open with a screening of Wadjda, the first feature shot entirely in Saudi Arabia by the country’s first female filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour, who will be in attendance. The film, which won three awards at Venice, debuted at GFF when it was at script stage.

During the opening ceremony, GFF will honour Kuwaiti playwright, actor and screenwriter Mohamed Jaber with a lifetime achievement award.

Last year, Jaber took the lead in Al Salhiyah, directed by Sadeq Behbehani.


GFF comprises four prestigious competitions offering prize money of $136,000 (500,000 AED) for fiction and documentary films. The competitions include:

  • Gulf Films, split into two contests for features and short films;
  • Gulf Students’ Shorts
  • International Shorts.

This year saw the highest number of entries to date, said festival director Masoud Amralla Al Ali: “This year we received an overwhelming amount of submissions from 138 countries.

“This is a testament to the festival as a platform for launching new work, as well as a measure of the rapid growth of the GCC film culture that has been embraced whole-heartedly, particularly by young people.”

Gulf Film Market

The GFF will dedicate a number of industry activities under the umbrella of the inaugural Gulf Film Market, which will run from April 14-17 and geared towards GCC nations across the film business.

Initiatives include the Gulf Film Forum, which includes discussion panels, ‘how-to’ sessions and networking events as well as two funding opportunities for regional artists.

First, Enjaaz, the post-production fund of the Dubai Film Market, will extend its reach to offer production funding for short films for GCC filmmakers.

Also, a new partnership with the Robert Bosch Foundation, a philanthropic organization that funds film projects in Germany, the Middle East and Eastern Europe will allow Gulf filmmakers to pitch their projects to the Foundation’s producers as part of an initiative to fund Arab shorts.

GFF festival chairman Abdulhamid Juma said: “In direct response to filmmakers across the region, we have broadened our industry platform and strengthened our existing programmes.”

Script Market

Also under the Gulf Film Market is the second annual Gulf Script Market, which connects scriptwriters from throughout the region with directors and producers.

GCC scriptwriters will be mentored by a line-up that includes: Egyptian filmmaker Yousry Nasarallah, whose film After the Battle was chosen for the 2012 Cannes Palme D’Or competition; and Emirati screenwriter Mohammed Hassan Ahmad, who wrote the 2011 UAE drama Sea Shadow, which has screened around the world.

More details on films being screened at the GFF can be found at the festival website.