- Title: EGYPT: Arab directors meet in Cairo to co-ordinate film festivals
- Date: 4th January 2010
- Summary: MARRAKECH, MOROCCO (RECENT) (REUTERS) FOOD STALLS IN LA PLACE JAMAÃ‚ EL FNA IN MARRAKECH FOOD STALLS AND CROWDS IN LA PLACE JAMAÃ‚ EL FNA IN MARRAKECH, PAN ACROSS THE SQUARE TO A FILM BEING SHOWN ON A LARGE SCREEN CROWDS WATCHING A FILM ON THE LARGE OPEN AIR SCREEN MARRAKECH, MOROCCO (RECENT) (REUTERS) BILLBOARD SHOWING PICTURES OF SCENES FROM FILMS BILLBOARD SHOWING PICTURES OF SCENES FROM FILMS WITH PEOPLE WALKING PAST, PAN TO MARRAKECH FILM FESTIVAL POSTER CLOSE-UP OF MARRAKECH FILM FESTIVAL POSTER MOROCCAN FILM CRITIC NOUREDDINE KACHTI TALKING ON MOBILE PHONE (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) NOUREDDINE KACHTI, MOROCCAN FILM CRITIC, SAYING: "If we compare the Marrakech International Film Festival with the Dubai festival where there is some rivalry, we have fewer means than the Gulf country. But we are a film producing country and the others aren't so that puts us in a privileged position."
- Embargoed: 19th January 2010 12:00
- Location: Egypt
- Country: Egypt
- Reuters ID: LVAVV424Z87OMPD1J3R1R6D03XG
- Story Text: An annual meeting of Arab film festival directors hopes to establish a framework to allow well-known festivals such as Cairo and Carthage to co-exist with new-comers such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha. Without co-ordination, the plethora of festivals are creating overlap and an unnecessary race to screen identical films.
There are a number of Arab film festivals each year that grab the headlines. They are graced by international stars and incorporate all the glitz and glamour that is traditionally associated with movie industries across the globe. The difference between the western and Arab industries is the rivalry that exists in attempting to put on the best film festival, creating massive divisions.
Such tensions have pushed Arab film festival directors to meet and discuss future co-ordination.
In Cairo a draft agreement has been put together to ensure that major festivals are staggered over a series of months to give participants the best chance to show the best of what they have to offer.
Rafat Charkas, Director of the Damascus Film Festival insists that holding a film festival in a historical city automatically gives the event an edge to festival new comers.
"What distinguishes Damascus and Cairo Film Festivals from the newly-born festivals is the history and culture and the ancient art heritage of both cities. People would like to come to Damascus and Cairo not only to see films and win prizes but to rediscover the rich culture of both countries." he said.
Currently, there are a handful of Gulf countries that have their own festivals running around the same time as Cairo and Damascus.
Intishal Al Timimi, Programmer of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival says that Abu Dhabi and Dubai are attracting directors with huge financial incentives.
"I think what has enabled the festivals of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the gulf in general to achieve this large level of success was because it put an essential target in front of itself to attract modern films. When you have modern films, there will be bigger media coverage as well as being different to other festivals in the Arab world, as they are festivals which are independent of the governments here. This allows us to bring in a larger variety of experience from around the world to our festivals and offer very large financial awards that encourage the producers and directors. We have a strategy to try and find a way to bring the foreign directors in and this has led to this type of festival." Al Timimi said.
The more established Arab film industries such as Egypt's are sceptical about the Gulf's ability to improve cinematography because they do not have their own movie industry, instead preferring to buy-in productions from countries such as Egypt and Syria.
The Marrakech International Film Festival is commonly viewed as a well-organised event and is keen to continue its own unique way of running its festivals.
Future film festival directors' meetings will be more likely to concentrate on the timing and scheduling of the festivals rather than synchronising event styles and themes.
Noureddine Kachti, a Moroccan Film Critic, said that although Morocco's doesn't have the capabilities of other countries in the Gulf, they stand out for having their own film industry.
"If we compare the Marrakech International Film Festival with the Dubai festival where there is some rivalry, we have fewer means than the Gulf country. But we are a film producing country and the others aren't so that puts us in a privileged position."
Whether the money Gulf countries pour into red carpet events can raise festival standards remains to be seen. What is certain, is that countries with long-standing cinematic reputations are still the primary source of film productions to Arab audiences across the globe and they don't envisage themselves being knocked off their thrones anytime soon.
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