In its fifth year, the heartbeat of the Dubai International Film Festival – the Cultural Bridge Programme –  explored ways and means of reaching through and around barriers to unite all peoples, through a multitude of voices. Participants of the Cultural Bridge Panel have been asked to consider the significant changes taking place in our turbulent world, and the role cinema can play in articulating the shifts in economic and political influence, on a global level.

Key Participants

Yasmina Khadra (aka Mohammed Moulesshoul) Born into a tribe of poets and writers, MohammedMoulesshoul, is a soldier-turned-novelist, who writes under the pseudonym Yasmina Khadra. His work frequently condemns Islamist radicals, corrupt politicians and all those who use religion as an excuse for violence. His latest trilogy, ‘Swallows Of Kabul’ (Afghanistan), ‘Attack’ (Israel/Palestine), and ‘Sirens Of Baghdad’ (Iraq) tackle head on issues not of terrorism, but with “human bitterness, anger, humiliation, the fears and sometimes the hopes….”

Deepa Mehta Canada’s most renowned female filmmaker, Deepa Mehta began her film work in New Delhi, and moved to Canada in 1973 to set up Sunrise Films. Her early work in documentaries rapidly evolved into outstanding, assured and nuanced dramas, and includes the iconic trilogy,’Fire’, ‘Earth’ and ‘Water’. Most recently, Mehta announced plans of a collaboration with Salman Rushdie, to co-script and direct his 1981 novel,‘Midnight’s Children’.

Haile Gerima Ethiopian-born filmmaker, writer, producer, distributor and film professor, Gerima began his studies in theatre before discovering a passion for cinema. Gerima has fought continuously to balance sanitised Hollywood narratives which misrepresent the experiences of the African diaspora. In his hands, film becomes a political weapon and catalyst, demanding attention and generating awareness.

Harry Belafonte A true legend, this multi-talented artist rose to fame in the 1950s with his instantly recognisable repertoire of blues, folk, gospel and show tunes. Belafonte was instrumental in introducing American audiences to Miriam Makeba, Nana Mouskouri and Bob Dylan. He also has worked extensively in film, with such artists as Otto Preminger, Joan Fontaine, Sidney Poitier, and Emilio Estevez. Citing the great Paul Robeson as his mentor, Belafonte as a civil rights activist has profoundly impacted a generation of African-Americans.

Cameron Bailey Screenwriter, video artist, print and television journalist, Cameron Bailey assumed the position of Co-Director of the Toronto International Film Festival Group in January 2008. Over the years, Bailey has been credited with spear-heading ‘Perspective Canada’ and founding the ‘Planet Africa’ section, both seminal programmes of TIFF.

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