wadjda Dubai

Dubai’s politically calm oasis boosts market’s attraction

Seven years after its launch, the Dubai Film Market is steadily reinforcing its role as the Arab world’s prime film business hub, with more movies than ever — some 400 from the Gulf region and elsewhere — unspooling in its Cinetech video library screening series this year. Spurred by this growth, the mart has become known as the go-to place for anyone who wants to network and do deals in the Middle East.

This is partly because the United Arab Emirates — the federation of which Dubai is a member — is an oasis of calm amid chaos and unrest in other Arab-speaking countries. But the main factor is that Dubai is the only Middle East fest with a market of such wide-ranging scope.

“The film industry across the region has been in a shaky position with all that’s been happening, hence they look at Dubai as the best place to meet, catch up and do business,” said Dubai mart manager Samr Al Marzooqi.

What’s key are its different components dedicated to every stage of the filmmaking process: the Interchange training program for young helmer-scribe-producer teams; the Dubai Film Connection, which is the largest co-production mart between Europe and the Arab world; and the post-production fund Enjaaz.

More than 240 Arab pics have tapped into these initiatives.

The Dubai mart is also unveiling a Dubai Docs section showcasing documentaries from the region at a time when unscripted dramas from young Arab helmers are getting more international notice.

Though it’s a prime platform for pics from Asia and Africa — areas with which the Arab film world has close cultural and industry ties — building bridges with Europe is a major mission.

After forging ties last year with the Venice Film Market and European Union co-prod entity Eurimages, Dubai in 2013 is partnering with Germany’s Robert Bosch foundation in a move aimed at fostering more co-prods between Arab and Teutonic filmmakers.

(Pictured: Director Haifaa Al Mansour’s “Wadjda,” which was released in the U.S. by Sony Pictures Classics, tapped into funds at last year’s Dubai Flm Market.)

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