DIFF CEO calls for film school and fund in UAE

Film school and fund vital for development of the UAE's film industry
Abdulhamid Juma, chairman and CEO of Dubai International Film Festival.
Abdulhamid Juma, chairman and CEO of Dubai International Film Festival.


The development of a government-backed film fund and film schools are vital for the UAE to develop a genuine filmmaking ecosystem, according to Abdulhamid Juma, chairman and CEO of Dubai International Film Festival.

Jume, who has headed DIFF since its inception in 2004, told Digital Studio that an affordable, accessible film school is needed to help open the industry up to Emiratis interested in a career in film. He added that this applies to various careers in the film industry, from directing and producing to set and costume design.

“We are still far away,” Juma admits. “One of the criteria of a film industry is to have a value chain of film makers. Not everybody wants to be a director. You have to have film schools. We cannot wait for UAE film makers, we need to encourage them. One challenge is there is no school subsidised by the government.There is a New York Film Academy, but it is difficult to get into and expensive. We need government injection on that [film school], otherwise you are not going to have set directors or even costume designers. It has to happen, that is something we are missing.”

Another development that would benefit the industry is a government-backed film fund, Juma said. While the idea was mooted a few years ago, it has still not yet been implemented. “It should be time for that now – a place where I go as a filmmaker and give my script and someone is going to look at it professionally – I don’t have to go to the bank, knock on doors, or go to my family. There is a place where I know they will at least tell me yes or know.”

Juma said that he is among the industry insiders lobbying for a film fund, and he is optimistic that it will appear within the next couple of years. “I think it will come in the next two years maximum,” he says. “It has to. If we really look seriously at the film industry then it has to be number one and film schools are the second thing. With a lot of developments we just have to be patient.”

Visit DigitalProductionME.com next week to read the complete interview with Abdulhamid Juma.


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