DIFF Daily 2010

Interview with Lucas Rosant, Dubai Film Connection Manager

Dec 14,2010 - 11:14 AM

Dubai Film Connection manager Lucas Rosant tells Ben Walters about the
challenges for this year’s edition of the matchmaking platform that
boosts selected projects at development stage. The DFC starts today and the awards will be announced on December 16.

What role does the DFC play in bringing projects to fruition?
The DFC comes in at this fragile moment when projects have a financing
script but still need help to go into production. If you don’t have a
good script, you won’t have a good film. And help at the early stage
of moving from script to film is crucial – you don’t get up in the
morning and you’re a director, you have to build knowledge. And we
help producers from the Arab world to package their film, sell it
to a sales agent, develop a festival strategy. It’s very important to
us that films get to an international level. We also have
work-in-progress screenings for films seeking post-production funding,
aimed at sales agents, distributors and festival programmers.

What type of film does DFC look for?
Directors with vision, who see cinema as an art as well as industry.
It’s not the easiest [approach] to finance. We have projects with
budgets ranging from €300,000 up to €5m, which isn’t enormous, but the
market is getting tougher and tougher so you need more partners. We
pay attention to the previous work of the director – do they know how
to tell a story on the screen? And the production side must be strong
– not big figures but realistic budgeting. Having international appeal
is important too – a story rooted in the region that can touch an
audience worldwide. We try to be as eclectic as possible – we have
arty documentaries but last year we had a romantic comedy and a film
noir, ‘Death For Sale’, which just got completed. This year we have
another film noir, ‘The Replacement’, and ‘Trempoline’, a comedy with
real meaning.

Are you restricted in terms of subject matter?
We try to be as open-minded as possible. It’s the role of a festival
to create a bit more freedom and open the door to films that might not
be released in a given country for commercial or censorship reasons.
It’s the quality of the project that counts – we’re not looking for
provocation but if the director is good and the production is good and
the subject is daring, we aren’t blocking ourselves. For instance, ‘I
Am Nojood, 10 Years Old and Divorced’, is about a girl in Yemen who
was forced into marriage. It’s based on a true story and it’s
important. Cinema is about both entertainment and being challenged.

Are there strong regional themes?
There’s always a couple of themes in a specific region – in France
it’s love triangles, in the US the justice system and outlaws. In Arab
cinema, there’s a lot about the search for the father and identity.

Do you find most interest is still coming from Europe?
Europe is an interesting partner for the Arab world. There are funds
for non-national films, as in France and Germany, and audiences that
welcome non-national films. But we’re also seeing more and more local
and regional partners – places like Desert Door, Film Clinic and
Screen Institute Beirut offering awards, and local companies showing
interest in getting involved. The first year we had Arab projects and
Europeans coming to see them. Now we have Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco,
Jordan coming in as co-producers and a lot of initiatives to attract
foreign shooting – production services, location scouting, things that
bring in revenue and help the local industry develop. And of course
new media platforms need content.

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