There's a new film team in town: NearEast Entertainment. Former Dubai International Film Festival MD Shivani Pandya has teamed up with Freej creator and chairman of Lammtara Art Productions Mohammed Saeed Harib, as well as former DIFF director of Arab programming Antoine Khalife, former film talent management Zeina Sfeir, former head of DIFF’s Dubai International Film Connection Jane Williams, former director of marketing and sponsorship Mahsa Motamedi and head of international talent Ben Amy to create a new strategic consultancy for the film, TV and entertainment industries NearEast Entertainment.
The new organisation aims to drive cinematic growth in the region
The new organisation will aim to support Arab cinema, and will strive to help filmmakers from the region secure financing, build all-important connections with film professionals from across the industry and assist with publicity to ensure films from the Arab world are seen by global audiences to further drive cinematic growth in the region.
Pandya said: “NearEast Entertainment is born out of a passion to celebrate film and culture and with a vision to support the rapidly evolving media and entertainment industry in the GCC. There is currently a gap in the market both in the UAE and the wider Arab world which NearEast Entertainment can fulfil with excellent personal and professional connections within Hollywood, the Indian and the Arab film industries. We are in a prime position to develop cutting-edge events and initiatives, further encourage global recognition for Arab cinema, bring a wider selection of entertainment to local audiences, support the International film industry to further strengthen their presence in the region and navigate the landscape and create new collaborations to bring exciting opportunities to the UAE.”
The future is bright
Saeed Harib, himself a DIFF Muhr award winner for Freej in 2007, said "The industry is growing at an incredible pace, with an enormous wealth of talent embracing opportunities to bring their projects into the world. Local audiences are hungry for compelling content, events and initiatives from home and abroad and we are keen to bring our expertise to global entertainment brands, filmmakers and industry professionals to deliver stand-out content and cutting-edge events to the region. The future is bright for the media and entertainment industry in the Arab world and I believe NearEast Entertainment can be right at the centre where that all fuses together."
The fact that both NearEast founders specifically referred to "events" in the absence of DIFF seems interesting, and although no one is promising us a replacement just yet, we'll be watching the DIFF team and their new colleagues' progress closely.