Sun Sep 16,2007

DIFF to become a film market and training ground for up and coming filmmakers

Dubai: September 16, 2007 - The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) has introduced a number of new initiatives for its Industry Office, including a Project Market, a producer’s training program, and a screenwriting master class.

Under the guidance of Associate Director Jane Williams (industry consultant for reputed organizations such as Cinemart and The European Commission), the DIFF Industry Office has been designed to provide a platform for information exchange and share of best practice between Arab filmmakers and the International film making community.

The Dubai Film Connection premiering this year is the first feature film project market in the UAE committed to bridging cultures by bringing international film professionals into contact with the Arab filmmaking community.

Shivani Pandya, DIFF’s Managing Director, said: “There was an overwhelming response to the Industry Office’s events and networking opportunities last year. The Dubai Film Connection offers a more focussed platform that allows us to further our mandate of promoting an Arab cinema. Selected filmmakers will be experienced, Arab in origin or nationality, with a film project to sell.”

Dubai Film Connection links distributors with Arab filmmakers searching for funding. Ten projects at an advanced stage of development will be selected by an international panel of filmmakers.

The selection of the projects will be based on recommendations by leading film organizations such as ART of Saudi Arabia, Good News Group of Egypt, Royal Film Commission of Jordan, Sundance Institute of USA, Meda Films Development of Morocco, World Cinema Fund, Berlinale of Germany and Producers Network at Cannes amongst others.

DIFF has entered into a strategic alliance with the prestigious Cannes Producers Network, headed by Jerome Paillard, Directeur Délégué, Marché du Film. The producers of the three winning projects will be awarded USD 15,000 and flown to the prominent networking event in 2008.  The Dubai Film Connection has, till date received recommendations from 107 filmmakers from 18 different countries

Paillard stated: “We are pleased to develop closer ties with the Middle East and Arab filmmakers. Cannes has hosted the foremost in international cinema for 60 years now, and we are confident that the projects from the Dubai Film Connection will in the future be part of the Cannes festival.”

Another new initiative is the Professional Coaching for Producers, a pioneering training course created in conjunction with the European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs (EAVE).

The program will feature plenary sessions, meetings, expert panels and case studies on various topics such as script development, legal issues, budgeting, marketing and distribution.

Alan Fountain, EAVE’s Chief Executive, stated, “I am delighted that we at EAVE are teaming up with the Industry Office at the Festival to put on a training, development and networking event for young producers in the Region. We very much hope that this will lead to new productions and new producing relationships in the Region as well as creating more bridges between the Region and Europe.”

Jane Williams, Associate Director of the Industry Office, stated: “In the second year of operations, the Industry Office has widened its base. These initiatives make the networking that takes place more exclusive and purposeful, and will lead to fruitful partnerships and coproductions. Moreover, we have instituted a structure for training and grooming up and coming talent, which is the essence of DIFF’s project of stimulating Arab filmmaking. This year is going to be the best ever from an industry perspective.”

Joining the DIFF team this year and serving as key advisors for the Industry Office are Antoine Khalife of Unifrance, Sean Farnel of Hot Docs and Catherine Buresi from Euromed Audiovisuel.  In addition to the new programs, other important industry office partnerships include Showtime Arabia sponsoring a first time comedy master class as well as production make-up workshop presented by MAC.

The Industry Office was introduced in 2006, and hosted industry guests from some of the most esteemed industry companies, including ArteFrance, Fox Searchlight, BBC Films, Jordan’s Royal Film Commission, Sundance Film Festival, Cannes Festival, and the Weinstein Company.

The Dubai International Film Festival will run from December 9 to 16, 2007.

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