×

Abu Dhabi: Image Nation Bridges Hollywood and Arab Worlds

Abu Dhabi-based Image Nation, run by U.S. exec Michael Garin, is a unique outfit set on a financially disciplined course with a multi-pronged strategy: calculated risk investments in Hollywood pics and bold but commercially viable local projects such as the UAE’s first reality TV format, “Beyond Borders,” in which rich Emirati kids travel outside their comfort zone, and an upcoming Abu Dhabi-set version of “L.A. Law” to be titled “Abu Dhabi Judicial.”

“The nice thing about Image Nation is that with our initial capital and cash flow we are financially self-sustaining,” Garin says. “So unlike other organizations that keep looking for outside capital from the government, we have all the money we need to operate for five years and beyond.”

Garin claims the initially government-backed outfit is enjoying a high rate of return from its partnerships — currently with Parkes/MacDonald on upcoming pics, including the live-action “Barbie” project and “Men in Black 4”; and with Hyde Park Entertainment, most recently on Ramin Bahrani’s “99 Homes” (pictured). While Image Nation’s deal with Participant Media has expired, they recently teamed up to co-finance an upcoming docu about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani student activist who survived a Taliban assassination attempt, being helmed by “Waiting for Superman” director Davis Guggenheim.

While the docu makes a political statement, it’s more about creating opportunities for filmmakers. And while Garin is on a mission to build the foundations of a motion picture and TV industry, he says, “If we did it just in Abu Dhabi it could reach a certain level of quality, but at the end of the day it would be provincial.

“We have the talent and we have the financial resources,” he adds. “What’s lacking in our region is experience and mentors.”

And even that is changing fast. Staff at Image Nation is now already 55% Emirati. The goal is to become 75% Emirati in three to five years.

More Film

  • Radiohead - Thom YorkeRadiohead in concert

    Radiohead’s Thom Yorke to Release Solo Album Accompanied by Paul Thomas Anderson Film

    Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke’s new solo studio album, “Anima,” will be released digitally on June 27 on XL Recordings, he announced today. The album’s digital release will be accompanied by a “one-reeler,” also entitled “Anima,” directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (“Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia,” “There Will Be Blood”) and set to three tracks from the new [...]

  • HKIFFS and Heaven Pictures

    Hong Kong Festival, China's Heaven Pictures Launch 'Back to Basics' Film Project Support

    The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society (HKIFFS) and China’s Heaven Pictures announced that they will award six Asian filmmakers RMB1 million ($145,000) in a joint project to demonstrate how high-quality films can still be made inexpensively. The six films that emerge from the new initiative, titled “Back to Basics (B2B): A Love Supreme,” will [...]

  • Nuri Bilge Ceylan in conversation at

    Shanghai: How Nuri Bilge Ceylan Sees the World so Differently

    At a masterclass on Thursday, Turkish film director Nuri Bilge Ceylan gave the initial impression of being an austere and unwilling participant. Wearing heavy glasses, keeping his coat on, and responding to questions rather than offering a class, his manner suggested that he was difficult. In China as the head of the Shanghai International Film [...]

  • SpiderMan Far From Home

    Hollywood Takes on Italy's Vacation-Heavy Summer Season With Blockbusters

    With upcoming movies such as “Toy Story 4,” “Men in Black: International” and “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” Hollywood studios are finally taking the plunge this year and slotting their blockbusters in Italian cinemas during the summer, a time when residents traditionally hit the beach en masse. For decades, the studios withheld their [...]

  • Easy Money

    Netflix Orders 'Snabba Cash' Series Based on Hit Movie Franchise from SF Studios

    Netflix has ordered a six-part original series based on the hit Swedish crime franchise “Snabba Cash” from SF Studios. Based on Jens Lapidus’s bestselling novels, the series is set in Stockholm’s gritty criminal underground ten years after the events depicted in the “Snabba Cash” (“Easy Money,” pictured) movie trilogy. The society has become even more [...]

  • The Kings Man

    Film News Roundup: Disney Sets 'The King's Man' Spy Comedy for February

    In today’s film news roundup, “The King’s Man” and “A Kid From Coney Island” get release dates, and “Barry” star Anthony Carrigan joins “Bill & Ted Face the Music.” RELEASE DATE Disney has set its Fox spy comedy prequel “The King’s Man” for release on Feb. 14, 2020. Disney made the announcement Wednesday at its [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content