In addition to the panels, the ACC will reveal a new edition of its Arab Cinema Magazine.
The Arab Cinema Centre (ACC), a non-profit organisation headquartered in Berlin, dedicated to fostering networking opportunities between Arab filmmakers and their global counterparts, has slated two panels as part of the activities of the upcoming edition of the Berlin International Film Festival’s (Berlinale) European Film Market.
The film festival will take place from February 15 to 25, 2024.
The first panel, titled “Arab Box Office Bonanza,” moderated by Deadline’s Senior International Film Correspondent Melanie Goodfellow, will delve into the MENA region’s record-breaking box-office revenues, nearing an unprecedented $1bn. The discussion will highlight the remarkable cinema attendance figures in the UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as the new milestones for independent Arab-language features in countries like Egypt. The panel aims to analyse the success of local-language film titles, MENA’s position compared to other regions’ theatrical revenues, and the future of cinema exhibitions in the Arab World post-pandemic amidst strong competition from social media and streaming services.
The second panel, titled “International Tipping Point for Saudi Filmmaking,” moderated by Screen International’s International News Editor Michael Rosser, will explore the evolution of the Saudi film industry since its inception 12 years ago. With Saudi films becoming a regular feature across global film festivals, the panel will discuss the country’s efforts to enhance its filmmaking and audience-watching infrastructure. It will also examine Saudi Arabia’s role in the regional and global film industry ecosystem as an international production partner.
Confirmed speakers for these panels include Wayne Borg, Managing Director of Media Industries, Neom; Gianluca Chakra, CEO, Front Row Entertainment; Mario Haddad Jr., President of Distribution, Empire International; Alaa Karkouti, CEO, MAD Solutions; Mohannad Al-Bakri, Managing Director of the Jordanian Royal Film Commission (RFC); Alaa Fadan, CEO & Chairman, Telfaz11; and Amjad Abu Alala, Film Director/Producer.
Commenting on the panels and lauding the ACC’s recurrent critical role in the platform, Dennis Ruh, Director of European Film Market, said: “True to our motto It all starts here! I congratulate the organisers to bring the 10th anniversary edition of the Arab Cinema Center back to the place where it was held for the first time: Berlin! We appreciate the efforts of this initiative and see the great synergy effects that have arisen from this merger and the great visibility effects. The Arab Cinema Center continually captures the latest trends in developments in this multi-faceted region. I’ve seen much diversity in storytelling in films from MENA, presenting a nuanced picture of local cultures and societies, but also in terms of different film genres. Especially the increase in the number of women filmmakers gaining recognition for their work is a notable development.”
ACC co-Founders Alaa Karkouti and Maher Diab expressed their excitement for the upcoming editions of the Berlinale and EFM, in particular how these recent success stories for Arab cinema demonstrate the enduring strength of the cinema experience at a time when the film industry at large has been lamenting the decline of theatrical audiences a of cinema will stressing the growing footprint of the Saudi film industry and the pan-Arab film industry at large on the global scene.
“In the face of an equally ever-changing global social, political, and economic landscape, it gives us joy to be able to celebrate these oases of success: independent Arab films are getting attention on the global stage and are also winning over audiences at home,” commented Karkouti and Diab. “We are delighted to share those achievements with the international film community in the hope that this fosters greater global collaboration with the fastest-growing entertainment sector in the world right now.”
“We would also like to thank the Berlinale and the EFM for consistently giving the MENA region a platform to make its voice heard by hosting these panels,” they concluded.
In addition to the panels, the ACC will unveil a new edition of its Arab Cinema Magazine, crown its latest Arab Personality of the Year, and announce the latest critics to join the extensive jury for its Arab Critics Awards for Arab Films. Stay tuned for the announcement of panellists participating in the Box Office Bonanza and International Tipping Point for Saudi Filmmaking panels.