Festival connects money and pics

The Dubai Intl. Film Fest (DIFF) is boosting its industry ties with a series of initiatives designed to goose the Arab film biz.

Chief among them is the Dubai Film Connection (DFC), which runs Dec. 12-16, and introduces a co-production market to the U.A.E. for the first time. The program, designed along the lines of co-production marts in Rotterdam and Berlin, will see 15 projects from across the Arab world invited to take part in a series of panels and discussions with international buyers and sales agents.

The producers of the three winning projects will receive $15,000 in development coin and be chosen to participate in Cannes’ Producers Network in 2008.

“The format is quite similar to a lot of other markets, but obviously the main factor here is that it’s focusing on Arab filmmakers,” says DFC topper Jane Williams, who previously served as a consultant to the European Commission’s Cinemart.  “The filmmakers or directors of the project must be of Arab nationality or origin. To have a co-production market dedicated to that group of filmmakers is very unusual. Filmmakers from that region are often a sidebar at other festivals, but here they will be at the center.”

The response was so great that festival organizers expanded the shortlist from the originally envisioned 10 projects to 15.

Also new at DIFF this year will be a special training course for Arab producers in association with the European Audiovisual Entrepeneurs (EAVE.)

A number of international film execs have already confirmed their attendance, including reps from Films Distribution, Fortissimo Films and Bavaria Films.

Organizers are seeing the inaugural DFC as a steppingstone to bigger things. Discussions are already taking place about including Iranian and Indian filmmakers in subsequent editions.

DFC SELECTION

“A Long Film on Sorrow,” Tamer El Said, Egypt-Iraq (Zero Prods.-Judea Prods.)

“Amreeka,” Cherien Dabis, Palestinian territory-Canada-Kuwait (First Generation Films-Al Jude Prods.)

“The City That Cares,” Ali Mostafa, United Arab Emirates (AFM Films-Film Works)

“Everyday Is a Holiday,” Dima El Horr, Lebanon-France (Orjouane Prods.-Cine Sud Promotion)

“Eye of the Phoenix,” Mai Masri, Egypt-Lebanon (MISR Intl. Films-Nour Prods.)

“Fix Me,” Raed Andoni, Palestinian territory-Switzerland (Dar Films Prod.-Akka Films)

“Jackie and the 40 Yellow Cabs,” Mahmoud Al Massad, Jordan-

Netherlands (Jo Image-iSee Film)

“Man in the Middle,” Ziad Doueiri, Lebanon-France-U.S. (3B Prods.-Process Films)

“Man Without a Cell Phone,” Sameh Zoabi, Palestinian territory-Germany (Black Forest Films)

“Messages From the Sea,” Daoud Abdel Sayed, Egypt-Germany (Deogin Prod.-Mec Film-Collage Film)

“MetroSufi,” Mahmoud Kaabour, Lebanon-Germany (EuroArts)

“The One-Man Village,” Simon El Habre, Lebanon-Germany (Beirut DC – Mec Film)

“The Path of the Fig Trees,” Meyar Al Roumi, Syria-France (Bizibi)

“Port of Memory,” Kamal Aljafari, Palestinian territory-Germany (Mec Film)

“Um-Hussein,” Mohamed Al Daradji, Iraq-U.K. (Iraq Al Rafidain-Human Film)

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more