DUBAI FILM CONNECTION GENERATES WAVE OF NEW MIDDLE EASTERN FILMS
Tue May 12,2009
20 DFC Projects to Hit Market in Next Two Years
The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) today announced the interim progress of projects from its successful Dubai Film Connection (DFC) co-production market, launched in 2007 to raise the visibility of Arab filmmakers and stimulate the growth of filmmaking in the Arab world.
The DFC is the leading project market in the Middle East. It has seen 33 projects in development and 3 works in progress presented to an annual guest list of more than 80 international film professionals from over 20 countries, who work in collaboration with their regional counterparts to see the projects to fruition.
Shivani Pandya, Managing Director of DIFF, stated: “After only two years in operation, the DFC has had a remarkable success rate. From a programme perspective, the initiative has succeeded in launching twenty new projects that will be shown on screens across the region and around the world. Of particular note is the increasing role of the Arab partners and broadcasters in DFC, which creates filmmaking networks throughout the region from a project’s inception through to its completion and distribution, in line with our vision to connect Arab filmmakers to the world cinema community.”
Pandya continued: “It also gives us great pleasure to announce that Amreeka, by Cherien Dabis and Christina Piovesan, has been selected for the prestigious Quinzaine des Realisateurs at the Cannes Film Festival 2009. Amreeka also appeared at the Sundance festival this year and has been acquired by National Geographic in the United States and Memento Films in France, which proves that regional productions have an international audience who are interested in stories from this region.”
Two other DFC projects will participate at Cannes alongside Everyday is a Holiday and Amreeka this year: Oblivion by Atef Hetata and Faouzi Bensaidi’s Death for Sale, which won the Arte France International Relations Prize at DFC 2008, will both participate in the L’Atelier.
Arab industry players that supported DFC 2008 include Bahrain Film Production Company and Desert Door Productions, both of which provided funds to aid projects. Everyday is a Holiday by Dima El Horr, winner of the inaugural Desert Door DIFF Work in Progress Award, will appear at the Cannes film market this year, and When I Saw You, by Annemarie Jacir, director of the DIFF 2008 film Salt of This Sea, won the Bahrain Film Production Company DIFF Development Award. From the broadcast side, leading Arab broadcaster ART has expressed interest in When I Saw You, and has also lent its support to Selma Bargach’s The Fifth String. Amreeka secured the support of both Rotana and Showtime Arabia.
Of the 15 films that participated in DFC 2007, 11 are either in production or complete, and there has already been considerable international interest by sales agents and distributors. One Man Village, which participated in DFC 2007 and won the Jury Prize for Documentary at DIFF 2008, has been selected for the Berlinale, Hot Docs and will be the opening film at the Munich International Documentary Festival. Fix Me, by Raed Andoni, and Messages from the Sea, by Daoud Abd El-Sayed, have recently completed post-production, and four more are entering that final stage: Son of Babylon by Mohamed al Daradji, City of Life, by Ali Mostafa, Tangled Up in Blue, by Haider Rashid and Port of Memory, by Kamal Al Jafari, which will have a screening of the rough cut at the Marche du Film at Cannes 2009.
Three films from DFC 2008—The Fifth String by Selma Bargach, This is My Picture When I Was Dead, by Mahmoud al Massad, and The Valley of Tears, by Maryanne Zehil, are already in pre-production, with six others slated to start production in 2010. Ibrahim El-Batout’s September 20 has been selected for the Ecriture du Sud programme, and Wajda by Haifaa al Mansour is participating in the newly launched Screenwriting Workshop organized by DIFF and the Gulf Film Festival in association with the Torino FilmLab.
The DFC will run from December 11 to 15, 2009, and will open for online submissions from mid-May with a final deadline of 15 August. Short-listed projects will be announced at the end of October.