Dubai Film Market reveals deals made at inaugural session

MUMBAI: The Dubai Film Market, an initiative launched under the umbrella of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), released the status of the numerous agreements that arose from its inaugural season at DIFF 2008.

The Dubai Film Market was developed to simplify content trading – the buying and selling of rights related to film and media – through Cinetech, a digitized film library of feature films, documentaries and short films. Additionally, Dubai Film Market staff facilitated meetings between industry professionals, sales agents, producers and filmmakers to further smooth the acquisitions process.

Dubai Film Market director Ziad Yaghi said, "DIFF 2008 saw a remarkable amount of activity at the inaugural Dubai Film Market involving sales agents, producers, and even casting directors who were able to access the Cinetech titles at their convenience. The Dubai International Film Festival is now able to support each stage of the life of a film, with the Dubai Film Market being the last stage in bringing films to distribution and to the screen. We are proud to be able to expedite the exchange of content and therefore of art and ideas between the Arab world and international audiences."

Although acquisition deals are generally confidential, the Dubai Film Market is able to disclose some of the details of deals made public after the inaugural session: Moonlight discovered and acquired four films, while Casanegra was licensed for the Netherlands, Machan, Return to Hansala and Salt of this Sea where acquired for Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Shoreline acquired the international sales rights for the 2008 Arabian Nights Gala film Pomegranates and Myrrh, as well as Dada’s Dance. YLE (Finland) has acquired one feature film and one short from the Dubai Film Market’s Cinetech. International Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) is currently in talks to acquire approximately 20 titles from the Cinetech, Latido is in the early stages of acquiring two Market Films for theatrical release in Europe, and Protagonist Pictures is currently in serious talks with the producer of a Dubai Film Market title about a sales opportunity. Meanwhile, Shorts International is trying to acquire a short fiction and a documentary for a program about Arab cinema.

Content from western markets was also acquired through Cinetech: Black Nation, by influential Swedish documentarian Mats Hjelm, was acquired by SBS (Australia), which is also interested in a number of Cinetech films for a World Cinema programme.

The Market Lounge was set up to facilitate networking and agreements, which led to numerous deals: Shorts International acquired American animator Bill Plympton’s two latest 3.5 minute films Santa, the Fascist Years and Bill’s Mexican Standoff for its French and British channels and for distribution on iTunes; Middle-East based Prime Pictures has closed two major deals with a local Pay TV and a free to air network; and Alchemy Films picked up the South African feature Mr. Bones 2 for the Middle East market. A2 Avalon has acquired the Alliance Atlantis library of over 10,000 hours of programming for the Arab world.

The Market Lounge meetings also led to exciting plans for production and projects in development: Xpanse CEO Ashraf Ghori and Bashar Atiyat from Independent agreed an upcoming CGI project to take place in Dubai, while UAE Film Distribution will co-produce a Libano-Latino Telenovela starring Lebanese actress Carmen Lebbos. LBC is in discussion with 2 companies concerning the acquisition of a format and a co production agreement.

Other opportunities for Middle-East based talent developed as a direct result of the Cinetech: while shooting a reality show about young filmmakers, Shorts TV included Dubai-based Palestinian director Mehdi Fleifel after watching his film Arafat and I at the Cinetech. Casting through Cinetech was another innovative use of the service, used by Rachel Gandin from Disney, who cast her next film while at the Dubai Film Market.

The Dubai Film Market takes place during the Dubai International Film Festival, set to run from 9 – 16 December, 2009.

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