Abu Dhabi and Israel sign film and TV deal: expect new film festival and co-productions

The annual showcase will be held alternately between the UAE and Israel

Dana Blankstein-Cohen, executive director of Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film School, and Mohammed Al Mubarak, chairman of twofour54 and Image Nation Abu Dhabi 
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A new agreement has been announced between Abu Dhabi Film Commission, Israel Film Fund and Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film School.

The collaboration will herald UAE-Israel film and TV co-productions and collaborations, as well as a new annual film festival held alternately between the capital and Israel.

It also means Emirati students will be able to study at the film school for the first time, and UAE films will have representation at its International Film Lab.

The film commissions announced they will work together to create content “with the goal of promoting tolerance and education”, and to develop “a deeper cultural understanding between the Emirati and Israeli people”.

Mohammed Al Mubarak, chairman of twofour54 and Image Nation Abu Dhabi, said the new deal “supports the development of Abu Dhabi’s film and TV sector through the creation of new opportunities for collaboration that will lead to the development of more quality content underpinned by the UAE’s values of acceptance and respect”.

Abu Dhabi’s film commissioner, Hans Fraikin, said the partnership would allow “talented content creators to broaden their landscapes and develop skills from diverse expertise”.

Part of the partnership will involve training programmes for filmmakers from both countries. There are intensive script developments planned over a period of several months with hopes to incubate UAE-Israel co-productions in film and TV which will then go into production across both countries.

One UAE director will be invited to act as a jury member for Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film School's 2021 annual Film Lab competition. The executive director of the college, Dana Blankstein-Cohen, said the institution "believes in the power of film and television education to promote creative exchange between our future generations of cultural innovators".

The agreement also lays out plans for the film festival, which will alternate between Israel and Abu Dhabi, and will show Emirati and Israeli co-productions.

Israeli creatives have already started visiting the UAE. Rapper Stephane Legar released a music video all about Dubai and Fauda star and co-creator Lior Raz was spotted in the emirate last week. The showrunner of the Netflix hit posted a picture from Burj Khalifa saying "thank you" and that he would be back.

On September 15, the UAE signed the Abraham Accord with Israel at a ceremony in Washington, DC, the first peace accord between an Arab country and Israel in more than a quarter of a century.