DIFF unveils the Arab world’s first and only comprehensive film market

Published September 13th, 2010 - 07:08 GMT

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) today took the wrappers off the largest and most comprehensive film market in the Arab world, a multi-faceted initiative that will create unprecedented access to film and talent from the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

The new Dubai Film Market will work 'from script to screen,' covering every aspect of cinema from conceptualization to distribution. It will house the Dubai Film Connection, the Festival's successful co-production market; the Dubai Film Forum, its popular hub for talent development, funding, workshops, and networking; Enjaaz, the Festival's dedicated post-production support programme; and the proven Dubai Filmmart, previously known as the Dubai Film Market, specializing in content trade, acquisition and distribution.

As the only gateway of its kind between the major film centres of Europe and South East Asia, the Dubai Film Market will represent and further the cinema interests of the more than 60 nations of the Middle East, Africa, South and Central Asia. In doing so, the unified market also cements Dubai's reputation as an international hub for cinema capital and services.

Shivani Pandya, Managing Director of the Dubai International Film Festival, said: "Over the last several years, DIFF has responded to the growing industry needs and requirements of our region with distinct initiatives in co-production, development, financing, and distribution, among others. Each of these avenues has proven immensely successful and the new Dubai Film Market is a natural outcome of their popularity, a consolidation of their strengths with the additional bonus of seamless access and operational efficiency."

"The new Dubai Film Market will allow DIFF to live up to its role as a catalyst for regional growth and enhanced global integration," said DIFF Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali.

"The new framework offers a single space for industry professionals from Europe, the Far East and the Americas to interact with the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, positioning DIFF as the place to be in our industry," he added.

The Market is also expected to accelerate the Festival's exponential growth. Since its inception in 2004, DIFF has drawn ever larger numbers of high-profile delegates, realized projects of scale and produced exceptional results in a short period of time. In three years, the Dubai Film Connection has driven forward 46 film projects, with more than 13 films completed and an additional nine nearing completion. This year, 15 new projects from the Arab world will be showcased, selected from hundreds of entries.

Enjaaz, the most recent of the DIFF 'script to screen' initiatives, supported seven projects in their pilot phase in 2009 and intends to boost another 15 fiction features and documentaries this year. The post-production programme awards between US$20,000 and US$100,000 to emerging Arab filmmakers to help take their work from the last stage of development to the screen. Enjaaz's 2009 showcase includes the award-winning Zindeeq and Zelal, recently screened at the Venice Film Festival.

In two years, Dubai Filmmart fielded more than 530 films, prompting more than US$2 million in trade deals for more than 130 films in 2009 alone. DIFF offers industry buyers films at their fingertips, via a digital screening system linking sales agents to filmmakers and buyers and eliminating the need for booths. In 2009, the high-tech system recorded more than 3,350 screenings.

In tandem with its public dimension, the Festival's business component has been well received around the world. Industry buyers including Memento Films, France; Fortissimo, the Netherlands; Canada's E1 Entertainment; India's Alliance Media & Entertainment; Australia's SBS Television, the United States' Shoreline Entertainment, Iran's IRIB, Belgium's RTBF, the Walt Disney Company, Moviemax Italia, HBO and NBC Universal are among its repeat attendees. The entire Arab world's broadcasters, including Al Jazeera, Rotana, ART, MBC, Orbit Showtime and regional distributors, are represented. Last year, DIFF drew more than 1,600 accredited industry delegates from 69 countries and 1,500 members of the press, both all-time highs.

"The new Dubai Film Market will reflect a marked upgrade to the way we work, to ensure we offer the most effective and efficient environment for business year-round," Pandya said. "From December 2010, delegates will be able to view the current crop of cinema, meet emerging and recognized talent, acquire films, meet the key decision-makers in the Arab, Asian, African and international film worlds, and develop business partnerships. In short, the new Dubai Film Market opens up the world for business."

Last year's sixth Dubai International Film Festival also recorded 50,113 admissions for its 168 films from 55 countries, including 29 world premieres, 13 international premieres, 77 Middle East premieres and 33 GCC premieres. DIFF also disburses more than US$575,000 in prizes through its Muhr competition, and participating filmmakers also receive in excess of US$400,000 in project grants, completion funds and post-production support.

The seventh edition of Dubai International Film Festival 2010 will be held from December 12 to 19. DIFF 2010 is held in association with Dubai Studio City and supported by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah are the principal sponsors of DIFF. 

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