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First Erbil International Film Festival kicks off - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Image of cinema taken from the Erbil International Film Festival website. (Erbil International Film Festival)

Image of cinema taken from Erbil International Film Festival website. (Erbil International Film Festival)

Erbil, Asharq Al-Awsat—The first-ever Erbil International Film Festival is set to kick off today, as part of the city’s celebrations for being named the Arab Tourism Capital for 2014. The festival will run from May 30 to June 4 and will showcase movies from across the region.

The Erbil Film Festival had initially been scheduled to run earlier this month, but was postponed due to “elections and technical reasons.” The festival will be attended by Kurdish, Arab and international filmmakers, all competing for prizes in a number of categories.

“Over seventy movies from around the world will compete in the film festival, which is the first of its kind to be held in Kurdistan,” Erbil International Film Festival spokesman Pshtiwan Abdullah told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“There will be a high level of participation from Arab, Bollywood, Turkish, Syrian and Iranian filmmakers,” he added.

Iranian filmmaker Tahmineh Milani is set to lead the festival’s judging panel, which will also include Syrian actress Muna Wassef, Egyptian film and TV director Radwan Shaheen, Egyptian actress Ilham Chahine, London-based Kurdish musician Hajar Zahawy, Turkish writer and director Reis Çelik and Kurdish actress Shirin Jahani.

Well-known regional and international film directors and actors are set to attend the festival, including Egyptian actresses Yousra and Laila Elwi, Egyptian actor Hussein Fahmy, and Bollywood film star Amitabh Bachchan.

A number of Iranian films will be screened at the festival, including Abolfazl Jalili’s Dance of Dust, Ebrahim Sheibani’s Nowhere Nobody, Rouhollah Hejazi’s Wedlock, Peyman Moadi’s Snow on the Pines and Salem Salavati’s The Last Winter.

“The festival is organized under the auspices of the Kurdistan Regional Government, specifically the supreme committee supervising the Capital of Arab Tourism activities in Erbil, in coordination with a number of companies that are sponsoring the festival,” the Erbil International Film Festival said.

The festival’s official prize is a gilded statue of a rearing horse and will be awarded in a number of categories including Best Film, Best Short Film and Best Director.