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A look back at 2008 Dubai Film Market

Thefifth Dubai International Film Festival held in December 2008 introduced animportant new component, the Dubai Film Market.  To date Dubai has been among theEmirates the fastest growing tourist and business destination and has investedbillions of dollars into establishing a state of the art communications andmedia infrastructure. This includes a film sector for which the Dubai FilmFestival and the Dubai Film Market are essential ingredients, not to speak ofthe imminent opening in Dubai of the largest film studio in the Middle East region.

Asdistinct from other Film market such as the European Film Market during the Berlinale,Dubai's new market was rather relaxed and given the use of the latest exhibitiontechnology, Cinetech, most users friendly.  Further exhibitors were not obliged to rent atnormally great expense the customary stands to show their productions. Ratherthey relied on the digital interactive market set up which permitted on demandscreening of a digital library of  211films , mostly of 2008 vintage, and instant internet communication with distributorsand other rights holders.  Of thesetitles  136 were featured  also at the Film Festival (Premium Content),52  were ‘marfket recommended'  and 25 originated in the Gulf states.  

Amarket lounge permitted networking among market attendees. 444 professionalsregistered for the market where more than 1300 individual screenings took place.Features produced in the Middle East including Palestine were clearly the mostpopular ones, though 131 of the submitted films originated in other areas. ThusPOMEGRANATS AND MYRRH (Palestine), MASQUERADES (Algeria/France), CASA NEGRA (Morocco),BLACK NATION (Canada/Sweden), and my favorite the superb EYE OF THE SUN (Egypt)were the top five most viewed Cinetech films.

Inmost film markets screenings area accompanied by interpersonal contacts betweenbuyers and sellers, yet the high tech approach of the Dubai Film Market minimizedthe need for such meetings and only 68 were arranged over the six day length ofthe market. It remains to be seen if the relative absence of personal contactbetween buyers and sellers which the Cinetech approach fosters is an impedimentto sales. After all in most sales transactions such close contact is consideredto be essential.  The Dubai Film Marketmay want to consider to provide space to exhibitors in future editions.


In questionnaires market participants reported 93 potential acquisitions. Among  deals in negotiation are  the acquisition by the Iranian IRIB TV of numerousCinetech titles, the purchase  of fictionand documentary films by Shorts International (UK) for a program about Arab Cinema, SBS Tele vision ( Australia) pursuit of Cinetch films for a World CinemaProgram, and Latido's (Spain) acquisition of films for theatrical release in Europe.


Whatsets the Dubai Film Market also apart is the absence of charges forparticipation and entries of films. Accreditation was free whereas for examplea fee of $375 has to be paid for a badge to the 2009 European Film Market.  Another striking point about the market is that numerous  participants apparently  attended as guests of official agencies, thatis the Dubai Film Market, the Dubai Film Connection, and the Dubai FilmFestival, thus had their lodging and transportation paid for.  I could not get exact figures yet in otherfilm markets one rarely comes across individuals who come as paid guests.  On the other hand, starting a film market requiresinitially a generous hospitality to leave an imprint, though eventuallychargers will be necessary.  After all,what one has to pay for is taken more seriously.

Mynext Dubai Market piece will feature an interview with its director Ziad  Yaghi




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About Dubai

In 2004, the Dubai International Film Festival launched with its theme of ‘Bridging Cultures. Meeting Minds.

‘Going into its fourth year, DIFF is held under the Honorary Chairmanship of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. DIFF is a not-for-profit cultural event, presented and organized by the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority.

Reflecting Dubai’s cosmopolitan and multicultural character, the festival showcases a wide selection of features, shorts and documentaries from around the world.

DIFF aims at establishing itself as a major international festival, while continuing to act as a platform for showcasing excellence in Arab Cinema and simultaneously contributing to the development and growth of the regional industry and talent.

As one of the world’s fastest growing business and tourist destinations, Dubai provides an ideal meeting point for industry friends and colleagues from around the globe. DIFF creates an exciting atmosphere for exchanging ideas among a group of progressive film industry professionals. Moreover, the networking initiatives hosted by DIFF provide participants and guests a favourable setting for conducting business

Dubai Media City

United Arab Emirates

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