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Middle East International Film Festival to appoint Festival veteran Jon Fitzgerald

The recently announced Middle East International Film Festival – Abu D habi (MEIFF), which will take place October 12-17, 2007, continues to gain momentum. MEIFF will be produced by Pyramedia, LLC, a media production and entertainment company based in the United Arab Emirates with offices in Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Riyadh, London and New York.

Considered a major coup, the Festival has secured festival veteran Jon Fitzgerald to assume the role of Festival Director. Over the past fifteen years, Jon Fitzgerald has guided the launch of a number of successful events (Slamdance, Bahamas, Gasparilla, Golden Star Shorts Fest) and helped to elevate many others (AFI, Santa Barbara, Newport Beach, San Diego, Ozone).

“The Middle East International Film Festival is shaping up as an original and innovative festival that will showcase the greatest talent from around the world. The diverse slate of films will also be complemented with a first class finance conference that will become a clearinghouse for film financing opportunities worldwide. Nurtured and supported by Abu Dhabi, which is rapidly becoming the cultural capital in the region, we are happy to announce that MEIFF will be led by Festival Executive Director, Nashwa Al-Ruwaini, considered one of the most powerful women in Arab media, and Festival Director, Jon Fitzgerald, veteran festival director and festival trend-setter. MEIFF has made the commitment to have significant impact in its first year", says Mohammed Al-Mazroui, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage.

This announcement adds to a continuous wave of support for the Abu Dhabi arts community. The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage recently announced plans to establish a film school, in conjunction with the New York Film Academy, on the heels of Abu Dhabi’s news of launching a Film Commission.

In addition to providing International and regional filmmakers with festival exposure, MEIFF will help to secure appropriate film financing opportunities for the International investment community. MEIFF aims to set itself apart from the plethora of festivals by developing a comprehensive Film Financing Conference, with industry leaders and filmmakers sharing their experience and vision for the future with festival guests, as well as the International and regional investment communities. “With so many film festivals, Abu Dhabi recognizes the value in finding a niche. This is a great opportunity to provide information, resources and education to an enthusiastic audience seeking investment opportunities in the motion picture space,“ says Executive Director Nashwa Al Ruwaini.

The event will provide the community and entertainment industry representatives with exposure to a combination of International and regional film artists. Filmmakers will compete for a number of prizes, with winners receiving the coveted Black Pearl. Taking the film financing concept a step further, the Festival will bestow Grand Jury Prize winners with financial production grant towards their next project. "When Pyramedia approached me to consider the Director position, I was struck by Abu Dhabi's commitment to developing a lasting impression and the potential impact on the regional and international arts community; The opportunity to work with Pyramedia to create a unique event and to provide emerging filmmakers with a production grant is unmatched,” says Fitzgerald. It will be an honor to be part of the team," says Fitzgerald. “This takes the concept of supporting independent artists to a whole new level.”

In 1995, Fitzgerald co-founded the Slamdance Film Festival and served as the Executive Director for the next two years. From there, Fitzgerald went on to become the Festival Director for the American Film Institute (AFI) (1997-99) and later served as the Executive Director for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Each of the festivals were elevated in scope, sponsorship revenue and attendance under his leadership, providing the foundation from which the events continue to thrive. In 2003, Fitzgerald launched Right Angle Studios a film festival consulting services and entertainment company for the digital age.

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