As part of its efforts to give greater visibility to Arab cinema, Dubai International Film Festival has partnered with two Dubai-based companies, Front Row Filmed Entertainment and The Picturehouse, the arthouse cinema at Reel Cinemas in Dubai Mall.
The partnership will see DIFF identify eight feature length films or documentaries from both past and present editions of the festival for distribution on DVD. Some of those movies and documentaries will also be screened for a period of two weeks at The Picturehouse.
The inaugural DVD that will be brought out as part of this partnership will be Le Grand Voyage, the opening gala of the first-ever DIFF in 2004. The DVD will be distributed through Virgin Megastores across the Middle East.
“80% of the entries at DIFF from the Arab world this year were made on 35 mm,” explains Massoud Amralla Al Ali, artistic director of DIFF.
“We rarely get to see cinemas made in the Arab world, especially Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and so on outside of the festival circuit. They do not get the kind of visibility that Hollywood or Bollywood movies get although some of these Arab directors have a history in cinema with more than 10 to 20 feature films to their credit. Unfortunately, no one knows about them because their movies are only seen at festivals. We now want to give greater visibility to those films and bring them to the public eye so that there is greater mass appreciation. We are starting this partnership in Dubai but hope to strike deals with partners in other regions as well,” he added.
Shivani Pandya, managing director of DIFF stressed that the DVD distribution was independent of the theatrical releases.
“By February 2010, we hope to identify eight films that will be distributed on DVD. Some of these features and documentaries will be shown at Reel Cinemas as part of our agreement with The Picturehouse but the DVD distribution and the theatrical releases are independent of each other.”
She added that these partnerships were “an extension of DIFF’s commitment to ensure that our goal of creating a strong platform for regional filmmaking is supported by year-long tangible initiatives”.
“The monthly and country focused screenings will serve as an ideal interface for regional filmmakers and the public,” she added.
Gianluca Chacra, managing director of Front Row, added that the screenings will currently be for features shot on 35 mm only as footage shot on digital format create technical difficulties in the event of censorship issues.