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Cheryl Boone Isaacs with conversation with Academy President

She may not be a familiar face on the big screen, but behind the scenes Cheryl Boone Isaacs is one of the most influential figures in the film industry.
Think of the Academy Awards and you think of Cheryl. As the President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and a career that launched in 1977 promoting and marketing some of the biggest and best-known movies, there’s very little that this lady doesn’t know about the industry.
Hence, it was a real privilege to spend some time in her company during an In Conversation session at this year’s Festival.
Boone Isaacs spoke about the role of the Academy, which spans way beyond “putting on the biggest party of the year”. She spoke of the work the institute does in preserving and promoting the industry and, through its new mentoring programme, encouraging and nurturing new talent through its screen play awards.
As the first African American to hold the office of President of the Academy, and the third woman (after Bette Davis and Fay Kanin), the honoured guest spoke about the ongoing issue of gender and race in America and how the Academy had evolved to become more inclusive.
Her visit to Dubai and this year’s Festival is particularly poignant since it has been announced that that DIFF has qualified as a Festival that can contribute short films for Oscar consideration. The qualification will apply to the Muhr Arab shorts competitions, making the Festival the first from the Arab world to be on the list. Winning films from last year’s festival can qualify for the Academy’s 2015 competition.

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