Abu Dhabi Film Festival to target more Arab producers

Organisers want more Arab filmmakers to attend this year's Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

The US actor Adrien Brody attends the opening ceremony of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival last October. Ali Haider / EPA
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ABU DHABI // She killed Bill, he was almost James Bond and the other was a French poet with a large nose. What they had in common was last year's Abu Dhabi Film Festival, which attracted a number of Hollywood's finest - including Uma Thurman, Clive Owen, and Gerard Depardieu.

But this year, both the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach) and the festival's organisers, led by director Peter Scarlet, have set their sights on a different set of celebrities - they want more filmmakers to attend.

The fifth edition of the festival, the organisers said, will focus on giving equal priority to international and Arab filmmakers.

The prize money - more than $1 million (Dh3.6m) - has not changed, nor has the festival's glamorous setting at the Emirates Palace hotel, but this year will mark the inclusion of new awards such as Best Producer from the Arab World and Special Jury Awards.

"We looked back at the last four years of the festival and tried to understand how our programmes had actually shaped up, what was working, and what maybe needed a little bit of modification," a member of festival management said.

The award for Best Producer from the Arab World is a very important one, he said, adding that "actually having an award for the producers", in the festival itself as opposed to grants from the Sanad Fund, "would both highlight the role and celebrate some of the daring and independent producers who are now working in Arab cinema".

The Best Producer from the Arab World Award would also aim to act as an incentive, he said, allowing producers the opportunity to take their work more seriously.

The Sanad Film Fund, which was introduced at last year's festival, handed out grants totalling $500,000 to a number of Arab filmmakers from around the world.

The deadline for submissions is July 1 and the festival is set to run from October 13-22.