Middle East well placed to maximize opportunities in global film industry


MUMBAI: Middle East film financiers, investors and filmmakers are well placed to maximize new opportunities arising from a rapidly evolving film industry, participants at the inaugural FT Business of Film Summit were told by leading figures from Hollywood and the region.


Alnoor Holdings chairman Ahmed Al-Hashemi, a Qatari entertainment and media company and official FT summit partner, remarked that technological innovations and changes in media consumption have heralded the beginning of a new era.


"This is an important time for all of us in the film industry, and we have heard today how the challenges facing us can be opportunities for those able to adapt. The clear message that has come through in all the sessions is that global audiences understand the universal language of film, and are increasingly interested in local foreign language films. The Arab world is well placed to play a greater role and I am excited that Alnoor will be leading these changes," he said.


The wide ranging programme included panels on the changing landscape for film in a post financial crisis world, globalization outlooks for Hollywood and the Middle East, ramifications for the convergence of technologies, distribution and investment approaches and the role of governments in supporting the film sector.


International Affairs director Raja Sharif said, "Although it had been at times challenging organizing the conference, the fact that there was wide participation from around the globe means that there is significant interest and opportunities for film in the Middle East."


Prominent speakers included Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein and Fox Studios former chairman and Pandemonium Films founder Bill Mechanic. They were joined by,  2012, Day After Tomorrow, Patriot producer Mark Gordon;Dune Entertainment chairman and CEO Greg Coote; Reliance’s Rajesh Sawhney; Pinewood Shepperton’s Ivan Dunleavy; Quinta’s Tarak Ben Ammar; CJ Entertainment’s Ted Kim; Hanway Films’ Jeremy Thomas.


Sharif said, "The Middle East was identified as an area of particular opportunity. With a population of over 300 million, the majority under the age of 25, the Middle East is currently the demographic which with the most interest in film."


Sharif added, "The most important benefit from this conference was that for many of the participants it was their first visit to the Middle East. Doha changed some of their perceptions and it was an excellent networking opportunity internationally. We had very positive feedback."


The summit was attended by 200 participants and will be held in various locations around the world over the next five years.