ON.DXB has revealed a number of headline speakers and performers to support the region’s creative talent at the inaugural event, which will run November 21-23.
ON.DXB, which will be held in Dubai Studio City, will feature a host of engaging talent-led sessions and concerts, keynote talks, live pitches, and industry workshops and panel discussions led by international celebrities, experts and brands.
Filmmaker Spike Lee, English actor and ‘King of Grime’ artist Kano, actor and producer Liza Koshy and gaming icon MjrmGames have been confirmed as the sector-specific headline talent for ON.DXB.
Visionary director and writer Lee, who was awarded an honourary Oscar in 2015 and won ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ for BlacKkKlansman in 2019, will chart his 30-year journey from heralded indie breakout Do The Right Thing to Oscar glory during ‘An Audience with Spike Lee’.
Lee is known for a quality catalogue of independent films and mainstream hits including Do The Right Thing, She’s Gotta Have It, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X and Summer of Sam.
ON.DXB will close with Kano, the UK’s ‘King of Grime’, performing on the Main Stage on Saturday November 23. Kano, who recently played in front of a sold-out Royal Albert Hall in London, will be supported by Egyptian trap artist Wegz and UAE-based Somali rapper FREEK. The trio’s underground-inspired mix of regional hip hop and British grime will unfold in front of an audience of over 2,000 fans in the Festival Square.
Having built a captive audience of 25m YouTube subscribers, actor and producer Koshy will deliver a digital content keynote.
After breaking through in 2013 and evolving her online content from Vine to YouTube, Koshy has since successfully crossed into television and film. Now in its second season, the premiere episode of “Liza on Demand” was the most-watched original debut episode in its first week of any original on the streaming platform to date. Koshy co-created, executive produces and stars on the series. Taking on a new role, Koshy also directed an episode this season. She will next be seen starring alongside Sabrina Carpenter in the Netflix Original Film Work Out. Her other acting credits include Hulu’s “Freakish” and Tyler Perry’s BOO! A Madea Halloween.
On the gaming side, MjrmGames, the Saudi-based gamer and one of the most watched YouTubers in the Arab World, will discuss how he has built a captive YouTube audience of 6.7 million subscribers.
“ON.DXB is a strategic initiative by Dubai Media City to strengthen the emirate’s position as the region’s undisputed media hub, and to support talent development across the region’s media, entertainment and content development arenas,” said Majed Al Suwaidi, Managing Director of Dubai Media City.
“As part of our strategy to elevate the regional content creation and media landscape, the exciting ON.DXB festival has been designed to unite leading local and regional industry talent, thereby enabling our brightest talents to connect and learn from global groundbreakers such as Spike Lee. We are thrilled to be welcoming so many world-renowned pioneers in their fields to ON.DXB in Dubai,” continued Al Suwaidi.
Jamal Al Sharif, CEO of Dubai Film and TV Commission, added: “Dubai has been an attractive option for filmmakers from around the world for many years because progressive legislative environment and enabling regulatory framework have created convenient filmmaking processes. This emirate, however, never stands still. The ongoing evolution of Dubai’s film sector is unfolding amid the wider convergence of music, gaming and other creative industries. We see this opportunity and ON.DXB underlines our commitment to aspiring talent across the region: Dubai is adapting to a changing industry landscape and supporting its evolution – we want you to be a part of our journey.”
Having released a “Call for Content” to regional film, game, video and music industry talent, ON.DXB has received more than 250 submissions from across the GCC and Levant, as well as international entries.
Industry judges will select the best submissions across all four categories, with showcases scheduled throughout the festival weekend. The top selected finalists will also pitch to a judging panel for a prize designed to accelerate ideas, careers and creative work.
In line with the industry and talent incubation vision of ON.DXB vision, regional film champions will take centre-stage at the festival. Asri Bendacha, the Dubai-based independent filmmaker behind influencer documentary Follow Me; Emirati filmmaker Mustafa Abbas, who directed the critically acclaimed Sunset State – screened at Cannes Film Festival – and Afnan Al Qassimi, the screenwriter of Boxing Girls, are all confirmed to speak at the festival. Additional film-focused experts from Image Nation, Dolby and Endemol, as well as Dr. David Tully, a senior lecturer in Media and Film Studies at Middlesex University, will speak in sessions aimed at supporting film industry talent.
Alongside MjrmGames, ON.DXB will welcome major gaming industry talent from across the region and beyond, including Hiba Muhareb, co-founder of Shanab Games; John Lacey, MD and founder of Power League Gaming; influencer Ahmed Al Nasheet; MC Baraa Andullah; Mohammed Alturkistani, the MENA Director at Tentacle Gaming; and RobocomVR founder Karim Ibrahim. Cut & Mustard will present an exclusive opportunity to discuss the convergence of media and showcase how it has taken global gaming sensation DanTDM into a first-of-its-kind interactive cinematic experience. In addition, Stephen George, Groupon ex co-founder and founder of app Surkus, will discuss the ‘Gamification of Engagement’.
Regional video talent will be championed by Mohammad Fattal, founder & CEO of Alfan Group; Noor Stars, the top subscribed YouTube creator in the Arab world; beauty guru Manal Muffin; and Saudi-based influencer Dyler TV, among others. The regional music industry will be represented by Elie Abou Saleh, GCC VP of Anghami; Sony Music General Manager Mike Fairburn; and Amr Ramadan, founder of Wasla, the alternative Arabic music festival, as well as speakers from ARN.