Scarlet to head Middle East fest

Former Tribeca a.d. tapped for post

LONDON — Abu Dhabi execs have tapped former Tribeca artistic directorPeter Scarlet executive director at the emirate’s Middle East Film Festival.

The two sides have been in discussions ever since Scarlet ankled his Tribeca fest post Feb. 27.

The third edition of the Middle East Film Festival unspools Oct. 8-17.

Former Slamdance founder Jon Fitzgerald, who helped launch the Abu Dhabi fest in 2007, has not had his two year contract renewed by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, which backs the fest.

Former exec director Nashwa al-Ruwaini will now take on an advisory role and join the fest’s board.

Al-Ruwaini and chairman Mohammed Khalaf al-Mazrouei will continue to oversee the overall strategic direction of the Abu Dhabi fest.

Scarlet is known to be a keen supporter of Middle Eastern cinema. During his tenure at Tribeca, a number of pics from the region were selected for the Gotham fest.

“Peter Scarlet also happens to be one of the rare people in the American film world who is knowledgeable and passionate about films from this part of the world, an area in which he may already have traveled more widely than any of his colleagues,” Mazrouei said.

Added Scarlet, “Anyone who’s had a chance to spend some time in the Gulf region knows that it’s a mind-boggling frontier of endless possibilities.”

The Middle East Film Festival has been a platform for Abu Dhabi’s ambitions to become a global film player ever since it was unveiled at the 2007 edition of Cannes.

Since then, the emirate also has launched a $1 billion production arm, Imagenation, and inked co-funding pacts with Participant Prods., Hyde Park Entertainment and National Geographic Films.

The Abu Dhabi fest continues to be one of the richest in the world. Last year’s edition handed out more than $1 million in prize money.

Scarlet’s appointment continues the growing Middle East connection with U.S. fests.

Tribeca inked a deal last year to launch a fest in the Gulf state of Qatar in November. Part of the mandate for former Sundance chief Geoff Gilmore, who joined the Gotham festival in a top exec post this February, will be to oversee the Qatar fest’s development.

Sundance execs have been holding discussions with Abu Dhabi-based investment org Mubadala about launching a Middle East edition of their fest. While those talks have been ongoing for months, the two sides remain some way from inking a deal.

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