17 September, 2010

Dubai Film Market: A Cultural Crossroads

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), the largest and most ambitious film event in the Middle East, used the setting of the Toronto International Film Festival to make a major announcement. For its 7th edition, DIFF will sponsor 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. Its various components will include 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, specializing in content trade, acquisition and distribution.

"We have built a reputation as a major film event over the past seven years", DIFF Managing Director Shivani Pandya shared with me at a meeting earlier this week in Toronto. "Now we are ready to build on that foundation and become a major gateway between the major film centers of North America and Europe and the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The initiative is in keeping with the Festival's motto of "Bridging Cultures. Meeting Minds." and in reinforcing Dubai’s reputation as an international hub for cinema capital and services.

"We have a special role to play in the promotion of Arab, Asian and African cinema", Pandya continued. "Not only will we showcase completed films from those regions, but we will also be instrumental in developing and financing new projects, as well as exploring distribution and new media possibilities."
The Dubai Film Market is yet another indicator of the the Festival’s exponential growth in just over 6 years time. Since its inception in 2004, DIFF has become a major must-attend film event that has been instrumental in the promotion of Arab, Asian and African cinema and the development of at least 20 films from its various financing initiatives. "Arab cinema is just beginning to get worldwide attention and we definitely see this as part of our cultural mission", Pandya stated.

“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 added. "At this December's edition, international 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 2009, the sixth Dubai International Film Festival presented 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 Airlines and Madinat Jumeirah. "This is a challenging time for world cinema and we see it as our goal to help develop international ties and relationships", Pandya concluded. "We also look forward to welcoming international guests to sample our unique culture". For more information on the Festival and its many industry initiatives, visit:

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