Arab Film Funders Step Up Collaborative Efforts in Abu Dhabi

Gulf film funds are increasingly working in concert

Though it’s really tough for directors in the Gulf and the Arab world at large to get their movies made, efforts to build a film industry in the region are gradually becoming more collective and co-ordinated, execs from the top film entities these filmmakers can turn to agreed during the Abu Dhabi Film Festival’s “Show Me the Money” panel on Friday.

Regarding the money, Image Nation creative executive Jason Mirch said the Abu Dhabi-based production company — which co-produces Hollywood movies and also shepherds local product — revealed that according to their calculations for an Emirati film to have reasonable prospects for a return on investment it “would have to be made for under $250,000.”

That does not seem such a small sum if you consider that Rotterdam-based Hubert Bals Fund has no limits on how low the budget of a film must be in order to obtain funding from them and rarely supports films budgeted at over $1 million, its exec Bianca Taal said.

Samr Al Marzooqi, head of the Dubai fest’s Enjaaz fund, noted that fund provides up to a handsome $100,000 in post-production coin to up to 15 projects a year.

Creatively, the models are local stories that can resonate. Iranian director Ashgar Farhadi’s foreign-language Oscar-winner “A Separation” and, closer to home, Saudi director Haifaa Al-Mansour’s “Wadja,” which scored more than 500,000 admissions in France, Mirch pointed out.

Image Nation is “solely geared towards building a base for filmmaking in Abu Dhabi and making Abu Dhabi a regional hub,” Mirch underscored.

Boarding Hollywood movies, such as fest opener “Life of Crime,” produced by Ashok Armitraj’s Hyde Park, just permits Image Nation to accumulate potential profit revenues to finance that effort and also “allows us to send young aspiring Emirati filmmakers to the sets and gain a level of experience.”

Back to the spirit of collaboration that was in the air, Doha Film Institute grants manager Khalil Benkirane proposed that Gulf funds connected to film fests lift any restrictions regarding where films that tap into their support should launch from.

“If we support a film in Doha we should not expect it to be shown in Doha first, and vice-versa. We are all just here to support the filmmakers,” Benkirane said.

Intishal Al Timimi, head of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival’s Sanad fund, noted that this was the first time these major MENA region funding players convened on a stage. And the meet prompted a call from fest programmer Teresa Cavina for a more organic collaboration. Everyone seemed to welcome it.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Maleficent Mistress of Evil

    Korea Box Office: 'Maleficent 2' Debuts on Top, Deposes 'Joker'

    Given a Thursday opening, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” debuted on top of the South Korean box office. The Walt Disney release earned $4.56 million from 612,000 admissions over four days. The fantasy adventure film accounted for 37% of total weekend box office in the country. “Joker” slipped to second after remaining on top for two [...]

  • Inside an Inox Leisure multiplex in

    India's Inox Multiplex Chain Reveals Ambitious Growth Plans

    Indian multiplex chain Inox Leisure has revealed ambitious plans to more than double its existing screen capacity of 600. The company is planning to add 900 more screens across the country over the next decade. “That’s the realistic answer, but my desire is to do it over the next five years,” Siddharth Jain, director, Inox [...]

  • Joker

    Why 'Joker' Is About All of Us (Column)

    Take a look at the photo above. It’s the most poetic image to have emerged from Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” and the reason I say “poetic” isn’t just because the shot has that caught-in-action indelible vibe of a quintessential movie poster: graphic, hauntingly composed, a bit shocking (at least, the first time you see it). It’s [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Rules International Box Office With $117 Million

    Though Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” stumbled at the domestic box office, the Angelina Jolie-led sequel enjoyed a far stronger start overseas. The follow-up to 2014’s fantasy adventure inspired by the “Sleeping Beauty” villain took off with $117 million from 56 international markets. In North America, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” debuted with a meager $36 [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Dominates With Soft $36 Million

    Five years after Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent” cast a spell over the box office, the villainous enchantress has returned to the top of domestic charts. Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” a sequel to 2014’s fantasy adventure based on the “Sleeping Beauty” sorceress, flew lower than the original and debuted to a disappointing $36 million from 2,790 [...]

  • MIA Wrap

    Rome MIA Market Wraps With Stronger U.S. Presence, Boosts Italy's Industry Standing

    Rome’s MIA market for TV series, feature films and documentaries wrapped positively Sunday with organizers boasting a bump in attendance just as some 2,500 executives departed in an upbeat mood after four days of dealmaking and presentations of mostly European fresh product, which elevated Italy’s global standing in the industry, especially within the TV sector. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content