DIFF Daily 2010

Interview: Shivani Pandya, DIFF Managing Director

Dec 19,2010 - 06:26 PM

Seven years on, and one of the messages being relayed by guests is the fine balance that DIFF has achieved in terms of showcasing cinema and developing a strong industry component. How have you achieved that and what can you tell us about this year’s Dubai Film Market?
It’s great to hear that feedback! With the new Dubai Film Market, we’ve consolidated everything under one roof. To make sure we go from ‘Script to Screen’ we’ve offered unprecedented access to industry initiatives that cover the entire life cycle of a film.
The Interchange for example, which is in association with the TorinoFilmLab, European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs (EAVE) and us, consists of two intensive four and five day workshops in April and December and two online sessions that keep the project development in a constructive flow. The first workshop in Torino is dedicated to writers and the second one at DIFF was for writers and producers, after which the 11 participants had the opportunity to pitch to potential producers, which I’m delighted to report went off very well.
Dubai Film Connection (DFC), our co-production market had over 270 meetings during the 3-day session, with each of the projects having a full schedule of meetings set up with potential co-production partners. Feedback about all the projects without exception was very positive and we do expect new partnerships to develop out of these meetings over the coming year. The DFC Awards were announced on Thursday and more than USD135,000 was given away in prize money.
Dubai Film Market Consultants had around 200 meetings with Dubai Film Market delegates to offer advice on how to realise projects across production, distribution and marketing.
Our post-production support programme, Enjaaz announced ‘Round Trip’ as the latest Arab project to receive funding. We’ve had 10 projects that have benefited from Enjaaz support so far.
The Film Forum, which is a consolidation of DIFF’s activities in the areas of business expertise and talent development hosted more than 20 panels and networking sessions, which were all well attended.
And of course, several meetings were organised within the Dubai Film Market and Dubai Filmmart.

Glamour aside, some of the big stories coming out of the Festival have been the initiatives that are designed to nurture emerging filmmakers. Has that always been part of DIFF’s overall strategy and mandate?
Right from the beginning, we’ve been focused on three key elements: To be a platform for Arab cinema and film, which we then extended to Asian and African film; to focus on the development of the region’s film talent and industry; and create a cultural event of significance. Until we launched the Muhr Arab Awards, there was no other festival – even in the region – that had a dedicated Arab competition. This year, we’re also delighted to have launched a Muhr Emirati competition, which had 14 entries and has given the world its first look at the new wave of national talent.
The Doha Film Institute hosted a lunch at DIFF. Are we going to see more partnerships with institutions in the region?
Absolutely. Collaborations are very fundamental and intrinsic to what we do. We believe it’s really important to have the right partnerships and when we develop them we ensure they’re strategic.
If you look at The Interchange, it’s an initiative that’s supported by the EU’s MEDIA programme and us; and the TorinoFilmLab and EAVE are really credible institutes. Similarly with the DFC, we started off with three awards and we’ve had partners like ARTE, Producers Network and Desert Door Productions come in and this year we have Film Clinic and Screen Institute Beirut. It’s a huge compliment to us that they’re actually giving out their awards at the Dubai Film Market. The Rawi Mentors Programme is a collaboration with the Royal Film Commission – Jordan and Sundance Institute and we also have the Two Sides of the Coin, a Beirut DC documentary course supported by DIFF.
This year, we’ve embarked on a number of exciting reciprocal collaborations with San Sebastian’s Cinema in Motion, Cairo Film Connection, Carthage and Durban International Film Festival. Apart from these, we’re also looking at how we can build on relationships in Dubai, such as what we have with The Picturehouse at Reel Cinemas to get theatrical releases for Arab, Asian and African films.
News from the Filmmart
‘Il Padre e lo straniero’ (‘The Father and the Foreigner’) sold to Front Row Films. All rights for the film were sold through Gianluca Chacra for the Middle East and North Africa.

Thanks to Sam Eigan of Shoreline Management, an 11-picture deal was struck for Middle East distribution rights with Phoenicia Pictures International. The deal includes Jim Kouf’s ‘A Fork in the Road’, as well as five 2011 titles that have never been to a market.

1,800 screenings in total at our Cinetech [as of Saturday], with a total of 219 viewers.
Over 150 meetings organised between our consultants and Market guests.

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