Two film festivals are better than one

    Healthy competition is set to give local filmmakers a wider platform to showcase their films.


    Sibling rivalry is not always a negative thing. In some cases, it does nurture healthy competition and helps both candidates as well as the family, in this case, the UAE, move forward. This has often been the case with Dubai and Abu Dhabi, both of which have often shared the kind of friendly competition that runs in families.

    This time round, it has to do with film festivals. Dubai has always been the more aggressive younger sibling that has moved forward boldly towards achieving its goals while Abu Dhabi has been the more reserved and conservative older brother that has been hesitant to take risks.

    Now, however, it looks like Abu Dhabi might shed some of that reserve and move ahead a bit more strategically to position itself on the world map. To this effect, we will see the inaugural launch of the Middle East International Film Festival (MEIFF) at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi this month.

    The UAE capital may well be the place where Middle East filmmakers get the opportunity to interact with financiers and distributors thanks to MEIFF's Film Financing Circle, which will run from October 15 to 17.

    The circle will be attended by many international cinema personalities including David Thompson, former head of the Film Production Branch at the BBC. Through this circle, MEIFF hopes to find investors for deserving film projects in the Arab world.

    Not to be outdone, Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), which has made a habit of announcing new initiatives each year, will work this time with Cannes Producers Network to award a prize money of $15,000 each to three film projects in the Arab world. The award-winning project owners will also be invited to travel to Cannes Film Festival 2008 to raise additional funds for their projects.

    In addition to these, there will also be the film festivals in Cairo and Morocco, which run from the last week of November to the first week of December.

    Clearly, these festivals are all competing with each other. However, parallel to this objective runs the bigger issue of showcasing Arab cinema and getting investors to fund these projects.

    The United Arab Emirates is in the midst of a film revolution now. Two festivals will give local filmmakers a wider platform than one to showcase their films, meet with the international film community and also probably win funding for their next production. Arab filmmakers must seize this opportunity to make the most of it.

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