The Dubai International Film Festival has offered a financial boost to participants of the Dubai Film Connection (DFC), hoping the move will raise the quality and quantity of submissions.
Announcing that this year's DFC will run from December 13 to 17, Abdulhamid Juma, Chairman of Diff, said, "Building on the success of DFC from last year we have raised the prize money for the three winning projects to $25,000 (Dh91,800) from $15,000 each."
The co-production market known as Dubai Film Connection was launched last year to raise the visibility of Arab filmmakers by selecting potentially successful film projects to promote.
Commenting on the quality of participants, Juma said he had faith in local talent but wanted to see a strong showing, regardless of where the filmmakers were from. "We do have a separate platform for grooming and encouraging local talent, but the DFC effort is to lure regional and international talent and provide a higher standard of productivity. We are certain that our Emirati film producers will soon be competing with international film producers and seeking international recognition. This is the one of the prime objectives of DFC."
Shivani Pandya, managing director of Diff, said: "In its third year of operations, the Diff Industry Office has widened its base.
"There was an overwhelming response to the office's events and networking opportunities last year. I am very proud that 25 per cent of the projects at the DFC last year are now in pre-production, and that we are able to raise our production grants and continue this valuable initiative for another year. Over the next few months many more projects are likely to go into production."
"The Dubai Film Connection co-production market is committed to bridging cultures by bringing international film professionals into contact with the Arab filmmaking community. This year is going to be the best ever from an industry perspective." DFC is open for submissions from mid-may with the deadline for applications set for August 24. Short-listed projects will be announced in October.
Juma, however cleared that Diff will not be investing or financing in any film project. "Diff is an organising body to organise and host one of the world-class film festivals in Dubai and we do not intend to mix our role," he said.
In its first year, DFC received recommendations from 107 filmmakers from 18 different countries. The three winning projects from 2007 are now in various stages of preparation.
Amreeka, directed by Cherien Dabies and produced by Christina Piovesan from First Generation Films, is being co-produced by Al Zain Al Sabah from Eagle Vision Media Group KSCC and is in pre-production and starts shooting in early June.
One Man Village, directed by Simon El Habre and produced by Jad Abi Khalil and Irit Neihardt from MEC Films, has begun filming and is expected to be completed by the end of 2008.
Man without a Cellphone, directed by Sameh Zoabi and produced by Amir Harel of Lama Films, Christoph Hahnheiser from Black Forest Films and Marie Gutmann of Meroe Films, has successfully managed to raise about 50 per cent of the total budget of $1.5 million and is scheduled to go into pre-production in 2008.
In addition to the three winners, DFC 2007 also included a prize from Arte France Cinema, presented to director Raed Andoni's Fix Me. Produced by Palmyre Badinier, the film is scheduled to start shooting in Palestine this summer.
Last year, as an enticement DFC entered into a strategic alliance with the prestigious Cannes Producers Network, offering the producers of the winning DFC 07 projects complimentary registration. This year, the Producers Network has committed to providing the same opportunity to the winners.