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Dubai dishes out distribution dollars
By Patrick Frater
Tue, 13 December 2011, 14:46 PM (HKT)
The film market at the Dubai International Film Festival is to begin supporting theatrical distribution of Middle Eastern films.
The new incentive scheme is intended to add relevance and strength to the event without significantly distorting the marketplace.
The market itself has grown substantially this year with some 450-500 industry participants in attendance and a total of 231 films (features, shorts and documentaries) screening in its Cinematheque, or electronic video room.
The total represents substantially all of the 171 films showing in the DIFF, with the addition of other recommended films selected by the festival programmers. With many executives finding that it is easier to access than theatres in the remote Mall of the Emirates the Cinematheque has been regularly booked out and had recorded some 744 viewings as of Monday.
The new distribution cash, totalling $60,000, is available as a print and advertising subsidy to distributors which buy and commit to releasing films from the DIFF's four Muhr (competitive) sections for Arab films and documentaries.
In total eight grants are available: two each of $10,000 for Middle Eastern distributors and two each of $10,000 for foreign distributors releasing feature films, and a similar four grants of $5,000 each in the documentary category.
"These are first-come, first-served grants, which can be disbursed very quickly," said Pascal Diot, a producer and former sales agent who now heads the market. He says that conditions are not too onerous. The films must be released in two cities for the ex-regional grants and two Middle Eastern countries for the regional grants. And films must be released within a year of the festival.
Diot says that the Film Market is also actively setting up meetings between Arabic film-makers and industry executives, who are potential investors or rights buyers. It operates as a two-step process; film-makers first meet Film Market consultants who then arrange appropriate contacts and meetings. "It has to be this way because a lot of film-makers are ignorant of the process and, for example, may not know how a sales agent operates."
Across the range of its activities – the DFC Connection or co-production market, the Enjaaz work-in-progress screenings and the Film Market – Dubai is really trying to support the industry side of film-making, argues Diot. "This is fourth year of the market and the first time that many people come here of their own initiative, and not just people from within the region," he said.
On Monday Enjaaz also announced post-production finance for a further 20 projects.