Abu Dhabi Film Festival closure met with shock
DUBAI // The announcement on Thursday that the Abu Dhabi Film Festival is to be discontinued has saddened those in the creative industries.
The ending of the annual festival was announced by the Media Zone Authority Abu Dhabi as part of a shift in priorities.
“It’s sad to see ADFF go,” said Vida Rizq, founder of Aflamnah, a crowdfunding platform for filmmakers and artists.
“Arab cinema has been growing and it needs regional outlets to showcase its productions.”
Independent films will now find it harder to get cinema distribution, she said.
“With a diminishing number of festivals in the region, they will find it difficult to get any exposure at all,” she said.
“I think everyone is in shock and cannot find a logical explanation.
“It’s a sad day for the industry as a whole.”
The Media Zone Authority said it will now focus on new initiatives to support local filmmakers as well as attracting more international movie productions to the country.
Support for Sanad Fund, which provides financial help to film projects, will continue and details of the next round of submissions will be made soon.
The MZA will now look more on promoting Abu Dhabi and the UAE as a regional hub for film and TV productions.
This will be done through Abu Dhabi Film Commission’s 30 per cent cashback rebate on all qualifying spending on films shot in the capital.
“Over the last few years we have built a strong foundation for a self-sustaining film and television industry,” said Noura Al Kaabi, MZA’s chief executive.
“It is now the right time to deepen our commitment and further develop programmes to take the local industry to the next level.”
She highlighted the use of Abu Dhabi as a location for the filming of Fast and Furious 7 and Star Wars: Episode VII, which provided opportunities for local talent.
Filmmakers will continue to showcase their work at Dubai International Film Festival and Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival, she said.
“Now that Image Nation Abu Dhabi has become part of the Media Zone Authority, our efforts towards building the media sector can be more coordinated and effective,” said Mohamed Al Mubarak, chairman of Image Nation Abu Dhabi.
“Image Nation’s combination of Hollywood film relationships and its local talent and production knowledge is uniquely valuable to this new phase of our industry.”
Image Nation Abu Dhabi invested Dh30 million towards local production last year.
A further Dh400m is expected to be injected into the UAE’s economy over the next five years through direct spending on film and television production and jobs creation.
Twofour54, the media and entertainment free zone in the capital, upgraded its post-production centre this month and training and development programmes will continue to expand for Emirati and regional filmmakers.
ADFF began in 2007 as the Middle East International Film Festival before changing its name to the Abu Dhabi Film Festival in 2009.
Updated: May 7, 2015 04:00 AM