Where films are imagined and deals are done

The 10-day film festival will highlight ADFF's contribution to regional filmmaking business

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The Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF) kicks off this evening with a screening at Emirates Palace of Life of Crime, a Hollywood caper starring Jennifer Aniston and Tim Robbins.

Behind the glitz and glamour of the red carpet and a succession of world and regional premieres– the 10-day festival will bring Forest Whitaker to the capital to receive a career achievement award, as well as a string of other notable actors, directors and producers – there is real substance.

Since beginning life in 2007, ADFF has established itself as a serious player in regional filmmaking, a hotbed of creativity supporting the work of talented individuals through the curation of a programme that is regionally relevant and engaging, and through grants that help young filmmakers bring their projects to life.

Over the past four years, ADFF’s Sanad fund (“sanad” means support in Arabic), has backed 93 films by Arab filmmakers with a total $1.82m development and post-production grants. The latest cycle of funding, which was announced earlier this week, has awarded $500,000 in grants to eight projects. The selected films originate in the UAE, Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia, Morocco and Sudan, indicating a diverse regional spread.

The event is also a place where deals are done, relationships are forged, films are imagined and commissioned.

Filmmaking is a team undertaking that depends on a range of skills, from script writing to post-production work. They all need support to develop.

ADFF is doing just that, playing a key role in enhancing the growing film business throughout the region.

It is no wonder then that ADFF now jostles for the attentions of many in the film industry who were once more used to stopping only at other more established festivals in Cannes, Venice and Toronto.

For the average festival-goer there is also much on offer: film provides a great tool to gather insight into other cultures and to educate.