le East well placed to maximize new opportunities in global film industry

Published March 25th, 2010 - 10:01 GMT
Middle East film financiers, investors and filmmakers are well placed to maximize new opportunities arising from a rapidly evolving film industry, participants at the inaugural FT Business of Film Summit were told by leading figures from Hollywood and the region.
Ahmed Al-Hashemi, Chairman of Alnoor Holdings, a Qatari entertainment and media company and official FT summit partner,  remarked that technological innovations and changes in media consumption had heralded the beginning of a new era.
“This is an important time for all of us in the film industry and we have heard today how the challenges facing us can be opportunities for those able to adapt. The clear message that has come through in all the sessions is that global audiences understand the universal language of film, and are increasingly interested in local foreign language films. The Arab world is well placed to play a greater role and I am excited that Alnoor will be leading from the front”, he said.
A wide ranging programme included panels on the changing landscape for film in a post financial crisis world, globalization outlooks for Hollywood and the Middle East, ramifications for the convergence of technologies, distribution and investment approaches and the role of governments in supporting the film sector.
Matthew Garrahan, Summit Chairman and Los Angeles correspondent for the Financial Times, remarked that the hosting of the event in Qatar is a sign of the region’s growing importance
“The strong participation at this summit by Hollywood and international figures has impressed us, especially since it is being held for the first time. I think it is recognition of the enthusiasm and intention of this region to build a viable, indigenous film industry”.
Prominent speakers included Harvey Weinstein, Co-Founder of Miramax Films and Co-Chairman of The Weinstein Company and Bill Mechanic, former Chairman of Fox Studios and Founder of Pandemonium Films. They were joined by Mark Gordon of The Mark Gordon Company, producer of 2012, Day After Tomorrow, Patriot and Greg Coote, Chairman and CEO of Dune Entertainment which has financed films such as Avatar, and Wolverine, among others.
The Middle East was identified as an area of particular opportunity with a population of over 300 million, with the majority under the age of 25, currently deprived of access to quality cinemas and poor technological connections.
Veteran Tunisian producer and filmmaker Tarek Ben Ammar was one of several speakers who argued for greater cooperation between Hollywood, Europe and the Arab world as a means for developing local content and talent.
“I don’t believe that Arab money should conquer Hollywood or go aboard. I believe foreign filmmakers should help us in the region make great films about our countries. “
The summit was attended by 200 participants and will be held in Doha on an annual basis

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