DIFF Daily 2011

PITCH PERFECT

Dec 09,2011 - 03:43 PM

Festival’s partnerships key to Dubai Film Market’s ‘Script to Screen’ mantra

BY RABIYA SONDE

The collaboration between the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), the TorinoFilmLab (TFL) and the European Audio Visual Entrepreneurs (EAVE) was initiated to promote regional talent, and give filmmakers the opportunity to work with professionals from Europe.

‘I think this partnership is quite extraordinary,’ says Savina Neirotti, director of TFL. ‘It came from a need within the region. It was a fantastic idea of DIFF’s to call TFL who specialise in script development, and EAVE who specialise in production training, to work together to help build a local industry without just bringing experts from abroad, but to try and help nurture the talent here.’

Alan Fountain, head of studies at EAVE says the collaboration has proven fruitful, especially in the production field. ‘Through Interchange,’ he explains ‘the idea is that Arab producers will continue to develop and build relationships with European producers, so that it builds some foundation to the future of Arab cinema’.

Divided into European and Middle East segments, the first round of workshops was conducted in Torino, Italy, in May while the second is taking place in Dubai during the festival. Interchange has a total of 12 teams comprising a writer/ director, producer and three trainee script consultants. During the programme, they hone scripts, pitch stories, and work with their mentors through any challenges they face.

One of these mentors is Jacques Akchoti, a French scriptwriter and consultant, who has facilitated screenwriting and development workshops with EAVE among others. He explains, ‘As script consultants and mentors, we help the participants with developing their scripts, provide possible solutions for queries relating to their story, industry workings and funding.’

By connecting Arabia to Europe, filmmakers have had access to wealth of experience, and financing. ‘Since the early days, Europe has championed the cause of independent filmmakers and has provided funding to a lot of independent Arab filmmakers,’ says Akchoti. ‘Through Interchange, we are trying to develop this link and encourage networking because although the Arab film industry is growing, there are few who can sustain independently.’

The programme has gone down well with its participants. Ahmed Amr, an Egyptian writer whose film ‘Ali, the Goat, and Ibrahim’ is an Interchange 2011
project says his script has been significantly improved. ‘Over the months I have seen my script undergo many changes, and all for the good,’ he says. ‘When you compare the original draft with the present one, you can really see the difference.’

Programmes like Interchange are shedding more light on the increasing number of Arab filmmakers. Neirotti says that seeing the results of the programme is what makes it all worthwhile. ‘This year, one Interchange’s projects from last year, ‘Beirut I Love You’, has gone through an advanced development programme at TFL, and won an award of EUR110,000. So it is working.’

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