Arab film in­dus­try ex­ecs to launch first re­gional film awards in Dubai

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

The Arab film in­dus­try is start­ing up its first uni­fied mo­tion pic­ture as­so­ci­a­tion and launch­ing the Arab Film Awards, its ver­sion of the Os­cars. The po­ten­tially game chang­ing ini­tia­tive, still in early stages, was an­nounced yes­ter­day by a group of prom­i­nent Arab pro­duc­ers and in­dus­try ex­ecs dur­ing the 13th edi­tion of the Dubai Film Fes­ti­val, the world’s lead­ing Arab cin­ema plat­form, which is among early sup­port­ers of the prizes.

Plans are un­der­way for the first edi­tion of the Arab Film Awards to take place in Dubai in March 2018, with stat­uettes to be handed out in 19 cat­e­gories. The nascent en­tity be­hind the ini­tia­tive is a non­profit called the Arab Film In­sti­tute which will be head­quar­tered in Dubai. The goal is to have at least 500 mem­bers next year, said Le­banese pro­ducer Paul Baboud­jian, a for­mer ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of fund­ing org. Screen In­sti­tute Beirut, who con­ceived and got the ball rolling on what is in­tended to be­come the Arab rough equiv­a­lent of the Euro­pean Film Academy, or the Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sci­ences in the US. “Be­ing a wit­ness and ac­tive mem­ber of the bright and rich Arab film scene, I felt we needed to bring to­gether all this en­ergy and ex­change ex­pe­ri­ences and ideas as well as of­fer wider op­por­tu­ni­ties in a fast-chang­ing world to our film com­mu­nity,” Baboud­jian said at a packed presser. The ini­tial nu­cleus on the board of the in­sti­tute be­hind the first pan-Arab film prizes in­cludes prom­i­nent Egyp­tian in­die pro­ducer and screen­writer Mo­hamed He­fzy (“Clash”); Tu­nisia’s top art­house pro­ducer Dora Bou­choucha (“Hedi”); the head of Jor­dan’s Royal Film Com­mis­sion Ge­orge David; Moroc­can film­maker and pro­ducer Na­bil Ay­ouch (“Much Loved”); Al Zain Al Sabah, who is Un­der­sec­re­tary of Kuwait’s Min­istry of State for Youth Af­fairs and also a film pro­ducer; and Jawa­heer Ab­dulla Al Qas­simi, who is di­rec­tor of - Di­rec­tor of the UAE’s Funn, Me­dia Arts for Youth org. and the Shar­jah Chil­dren In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val.

Aside from launch­ing the first pan-Arab film nods, the Arab Film In­sti­tute will seek to be­come a fo­rum for the re­gion’s film in­dus­try to try and col­lec­tively tackle stum­bling blocks such as dis­tri­bu­tion im­ped­i­ments caused by dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties of Ara­bic in dif­fer­ent coun­tries, and col­lec­tively ad­dress the lack of a real pan-Arab star sys­tem. “We cur­rently work in si­los,” said He­fzy. “More in­ter­ac­tion is nec­es­sary,” he noted.

“We are a sin­gle mar­ket; we need to build this mar­ket and this has not been hap­pen­ing,” said Algerian di­rec­tor and pro­ducer Salem Brahimi (“Let Them Come”). Asked about po­ten­tial rifts that could arise within the org. Brahimi said: “we are go­ing to be messy! We are go­ing to quar­rel, we are go­ing to learn as we go, we know that. But even if we make mis­takes, we will achieve more than we are achiev­ing right now, which is noth­ing.” — Reuters

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