On training programmes, cash awards and outreach towards the larger Arab market for filmmakers We have been organising Interchange since 2010. This is a programme of training initiatives and partnerships designed to increase co-productions between Arab and European film professionals. Interchange is a partnership between DIFF, TorinoFilmLab and EAVE. Every year, we take six projects […]
On training programmes, cash awards and outreach towards the larger Arab market for filmmakers
We have been organising Interchange since 2010. This is a programme of training initiatives and partnerships designed to increase co-productions between Arab and European film professionals. Interchange is a partnership between DIFF, TorinoFilmLab and EAVE.
Every year, we take six projects from Europe and six from the Arab world. We run two workshops one in Torino and the other, in Dubai. Each project is developed with the help of an international team that offers advice on script development and finance. These projects are then presented to potential buyers at the festival.
We have similar partnerships to enable documentary filmmaking in the region. Apart from the Copenhagen DOX:LAB training programme and DIFF prize, filmmakers from the region can access DFC documentary opportunities including a USD 15,000 award offered by Screen Institute Beirut and the Beirut DC documentary collective in Lebanon.
The Dubai Film connection has now been running for the sixth year. We select 15 projects from the Arab region each year and the directors are of Arab nationality. They are eligible to be considered for a no-strings attached prize of USD 100,000 in addition to the shortlisted director/producer teams being offered industry connections, including matchmaking with specialists in film production, sales, distribution and funding.
In six years, 30 of the films have been completed and another 13 are in post production. These are interesting figures if you compare them to similar festivals around the world. We are turning our films around in a period of two years whereas the global average is around four years. That is an indication of the quality of projects we are selecting and the kind of regional and international interest in the projects.
On being the only festival in the Arab region with a market
We are the only festival that has a market in the Arab region. Others have initiatives and funds, but we have created a platform. When we invest USD 25,000 in a project, it creates interest and, thereby, attracts more money. Additionally, we help at various stages. Among the many projects we have supported is Wadjda by Saudi Arabian filmmaker Haifaa Al Mansour. She attended our script writing session in 2008 and received support from Enjaz to complete her film. Her film Wadjda was screened at the 69th Venice Film Festival and scooped the prestigious CICAE Award.
Jordanian-born documentary filmmaker Mahmoud Al Massad was awarded USD 25,000 for developing the project This is my Picture when I was Dead. This film was selected for screening at IDFA in Amsterdam one of the leading documentary events in the world. He received help from Enjaz for screening at IDFA. These are some case-studies to demonstrate the support we can provide at different stages.
Over the years, the quality of applications has grown stronger. There is a growing confidence among the regional filmmakers with their films being showcased as the central feature in a festival such as DIFF and not as a sidebar. We are also beginning to see interesting co-productions between Arab countries such as Egypt and Lebanon, for instance.
Jane Williams, Director – Film Connection & Film Forum
On Enjaz and post-production initiatives
Our motto is supporting films from script to screen. Typically, a lot of films do not come to fruition because they lack money in the post-production phase.
We established this fund three years ago. Our success rate is around 75%, which is huge when you look at similar initiatives globally. We have two cycles in a year when we invite applicants. We choose the films and support the films up to USD 100,000 depending on how much money is needed in each project. In all, we have supported 146 projects and that does not include Enjaz 2012.
Regarding Dubai Filmmart the digital acquisition platform for agents, distributors and filmmakers to conduct the business of buying and selling films we started this four years ago. This is our fifth year. Each year, we ensure that there is an improvement in the quality of people attending. Last year, we had 1,500 delegates in Dubai Filmmart and more than 241 companies attended.
This year, we have increased the number of films from 200 to around 350 so that sales agents have the opportunity to increase the number of films in their portfolio. We have a partnership with the Venice Film Festival where 10 works by Arab filmmakers, participated in the Venice Film Market at the 69th Venice Film Festival.
We will have seven consultants this year to help with distribution advice for filmmakers. For the first time this year, we also have 180 exhibitors stands, where national and international entities can showcase their support for the film industry.
Samr Al Marzooqi, Dubai Film Market Manager
On Dubai being a business destination for films
Eurimages, the fund that supports European film co-productions, will hold its 129th meeting in the UAE, during the 9th Dubai International Film Festival. This is the first time that this consortium of 36 countries will meet outside Europe and this is part of their study group to assess the value of establishing links with non-European countries.
We have helped put Arab films on the map. While we have not solely been responsible, we have played a significant part. We are seeing evidence of this in other festivals. Toronto, for instance, would barely have one or two Arab films. In 2011, there were 13 Arab films. This is testament, in part, to the platform we have created here where people are coming on their own to pick up films from the region. So behind the glamour and the red carpet events there is a great bit of achievement that we are proud of.
We are aiming for commercial success. The challenges of funding and distribution in this part of the world are typically faced globally. While the pavilions during the festival are packed, we are aiming for festival-type films to be curated throughout the year and we are working with local companies such as Reel Cinemas in this regard.
Shivani Pandya, Managing Director, DIFF