Arab auds hot fest topic

Gilmore talks up the future of Arab film

Tribeca creative topper Geoff Gilmore talked up the future of Arab film at a distributors’ lunch at the second Doha Tribeca Film Festival on Wednesday.

“Look at this, an international film festival opening with a brilliant film that is an Arab film co-produced with an Arab production company,” he said, speaking of Rachid Bouchareb’s Algerian thriller “Outside the Law,” produced by Tarak Ben Ammar’s Quinta Communications.

“The key at this festival is to work not only on getting Arab films made but getting them seen, and though it’s early days we are looking at numerous different models of getting these films out there to U.S. audiences, not just in theaters,” he said, hinting at digital media modes of distribution.

One of the questions being discussed on the sidelines of the fest is how to build Arab audiences for local films as well as international audiences.

There is a feeling here that local productions suffer similar fates to independent films in the U.S. — they play well at fests and with critics but then have nowhere to go.

The majority of auds in places like Lebanon, Jordan and the Gulf states overwhelmingly opt for big-budget, English-language films over local productions, Mario Haddad, owner of a chain of Lebanese cinemas, told Variety.

“This is something that our partnership at Doha Tribeca is really working to change,” Gilmore said.

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