Dubai Filmmart sees spike in global interest in Arab cinema

Sun May 15,2011

Cannes, May 15, 2011: The Dubai Film Market announced today that last year’s edition of the Dubai Filmmart, held in December 2010, assisted sales for a record 224 films from around the world, a 60 per cent increase from its 2009 edition. The Filmmart held an unprecedented 3,193 screenings in 2010, with more than 750 industry buyers from 60 nations attending.

The 2010 Filmmart boasted one of the strongest catalogues of Arab films in its history, including 23 world premieres, six international premieres, 37 Middle East premieres and 21 Gulf premieres from its DIFF catalogue alone. Cinetech, the digital library bespoke to DIFF, included 103 DIFF films, 43 films from the Gulf Film Festival and 78 Filmmart-recommended films.

Ziad Yaghi, Director, Dubai Filmmart, said: “The response to the 2010 Dubai Filmmart has been phenomenal, leading to our most successful year yet. The 60 per cent increase and feedback from our partners reflects growing global interest particularly in Arab cinema, in addition to Asian and African cinema. We are proud to play a role in taking Arab cinema to global audiences, opening regional doors for international content, and to facilitate B2B trade.”

Shivani Pandya, Managing Director of the Dubai International Film Festival and Dubai Film Market, said the Filmmart’s growth cements Dubai’s reputation as a global hub for cinema content, capital and services.

“The volume of trade in Festival films – particularly Arab, Asian and African cinema, our core areas of expertise – as well as non-Festival films is evidence of the Dubai Film Market emerging as a standalone business destination for international and regional buyers and sellers of film,” she said.

The 2010 Dubai Filmmart’s contributions to Arab cinema going global include SBS Television Australia’s acquisition of Muhr Arab-winning Lebanese drama Stray Bullet by George Hachem and The House Under the Water by Sepideh Farsi. SBS is also considering Syria’s Damascus with Love and The Father and the Foreigner.

Earlier this year, Fortissimo Films acquired 678, the Egyptian drama that won two of DIFF 2010’s Muhr awards, which has since screened at festivals in Rotterdam, Berlin, Geneva and New York.

Nicole Mackey, EVP of Sales and Acquisitions at Fortissimo Films said, “People want to hear the stories behind today’s Egypt and see the real lives of people across the Middle East, and 678’s success is a prime example. In the few months since we discovered the film in Dubai, sales have been buoyant and include prominent independent distributors in France (Pyramide), Spain (Golem), Portugal (Lusomundo), and Brazil (Imovision) with other territories are about to close.”

Closer to home, award-winning UAE documentary Hamama by Nujoom Alghanem was selected for the renowned Paris Science Festival via Filmmart. Leaving Baghdad, Koutaiba al Janabi’s Gulf Film Festival winner, is also sought after by several international distribution companies.

Major deals involving regional content leaders include: Shoreline Entertainment’s (USA) sale of Middle Eastern distribution rights to Phoenicia Pictures International for 11 feature films, including Story of Bonnie & Clyde starring Hillary Duff.

Dubai-based content provider Intigral, a joint venture between Saudi Telecom Company, All Asia Networks and the Saudi Research and Marketing Group, sealed multiple local and international deals for films including 678, Melodrama Habibi and Samaan Baldayaa, in addition to volume deals with Falcon Films, Front Row, Teleview, Italia Films and other leading distributors. Intigral is also finalizing a long term output deal with Disney, and reported acquisition of more than 100 titles.

Front Row Films also sold 60 films to OSN and Intigral and acquired The Father and the Foreigner via Filmmart. Italia Films sold 12 titles and acquired seven titles.

Several companies used the Dubai Filmmart platform for deals involving non-Middle Eastern films and territories. China’s Broadway Cinematheque moma, for example, acquired rights for DIFF films including Japan’s Norwegian Wood and Poland’s The Magic Tree; SBS Television Australia acquired Aamir Bashir’s film Autumn (Harud) from India and Norwegian Wood, and made offers for Chinese martial arts thriller Reign of Assassins and Polish children’s film Tomorrow will be Better.

On the Festival-to-Festival front, the recently concluded Hot Docs international documentary festival invited several DIFF 2010 films including Koundi and the National Thursday, This is My Picture When I was Dead and Zelal to its 2011 edition via Filmmart; and Shorts International acquired a number of short films from Asia and Africa in addition to the Arab world.

Key companies attending the 2010 Filmmart included: The Walt Disney Company, Shoreline Entertainment, Fortissimo Films, Shorts International, Pretty Pictures, SBS Television, France Television, Jaguar, 7th Art , Cinemavault, Madman, Irib - Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Fuji Television Network, Senator, O’Telecom/Orascom, Yalla TV, PBS, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Arclight Films, ARTE, Reed Midem and Hot Docs. Broadcasters represented from the Arab world included ART, OSN, Al Jazeera, Dubai Media Incorporated and MBC.

In its three-year history, the Dubai Filmmart has fielded more than 750 films. The fourth edition of the Dubai Filmmart will take place during Dubai International Film Festival 2011 to be held from December 7th to 14th 2011.

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