Dubai fest linking filmmakers, funds

Pact with Scorsese, WCF to restore Arab cinema

Dubai’s film fest continues to be a key supporter of Arab filmmaking.

The Dubai Film Connection, the fest’s co-production market, has 33 feature projects in development, three in pre-production and another six set to go into production next year.

Three films from the 2008 edition of DFC — Selma Bargach’s “The Fifth String,” Mahmoud al-Massad’s “This Is My Picture When I Was Dead” and Maryanne Zehil’s “The Valley of Tears” — are set to go into production in the coming months.

Two DFC projects — Atef Hetata’s “Oblivion” and Faouzi Bensaidi’s “Death for Sale” — are in Cannes’ emerging filmmaker lab L’Atelier.

Cherien Dabis’ “Amreeka,” which screens in Directors’ Fortnight, was developed at the 2007 Dubai Film Connection. Pic is the first completed feature to come out of the industry initiative, which teams directors with potential sources of coin. Dabis secured significant pre-buys from both Saudi Prince Waleed bin Talal’s shingle Rotana and pay TV platform Showtime Arabia. Coin from those deals enabled the film to get made.

The Dubai fest has also announced a tie-up with Martin Scorsese and the World Cinema Foundation to help in the restoration of Arab cinema. WCF will work with Dubai to restore two Arab films a year.

The pact, which initially runs for two years, is part of the fest’s stated mission to be a champion for the promotion of Arab cinema. Restored pics will be preemed at the Dubai fest in December and then be toured around the world through WCF’s festival presence. The intention at this stage is that Scorsese will travel to Dubai, schedules permitting, to present the restored films.

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