The Abu Dhabi Film Commission has signed a cooperation agreement with the Israel Film Fund and the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film & Television School to foster film and TV ties in the region.
The agenda focuses on four initiatives, which interestingly include plans for a new regional film festival. The Middle East previously had the Dubai International Film Festival, which established itself as a key event for the Arab World’s nascent film biz but last took place in 2017 and is not expected to return. Saudi Arabia has the new Red Sea International Film Festival, though this has had a rocky beginning, and Israel has fests in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, but the level of investment in film production in the region, particularly in the UAE, has created expectations that another event could be inaugurated.
The new event would rotate annually between Abu Dhabi and Israel and will focus on Emirati and Israeli productions and co-productions, rather than international movies. It could start as soon as 2021.
The other initiatives are workshops, training, education and an international film lab. The overall aim is to skill up production crew in the region and to increase visibility. The partners also said the goal was “promoting tolerance, education and developing a deeper cultural understanding between the Emirati and Israeli people”.
The deal follows the recent agreement struck at the White House between Israel and the two Arab States UAE and Bahrain.
Mohamed Al Mubarak, Chairman of twofour54 and Image Nation Abu Dhabi, said: “This agreement strengthens cultural ties between our creative industries as well as supports the development of Abu Dhabi’s film and TV sector through the creation of new opportunities for collaboration that will lead to the development of more quality content underpinned by the UAE’s values of acceptance and respect.”
Hans Fraikin, the Abu Dhabi Film Commissioner, added: “We are delighted with this historic cooperation agreement with the Israel Film Fund and the Sam Spiegel Film School. This new partnership between the UAE and Israel will be extremely beneficial for our burgeoning Emirati film and television community by allowing our talented content creators to broaden their landscapes and develop skills from diverse expertise.”
Lisa Shiloach-Uzrad, Executive Director of IFF, said: “The art of film is a universal language which can serve as a bridge between cultures and people. I believe this is a wonderful opportunity for collaboration through which we can learn, create and become closer to our neighbors in the Middle East. I am sure we will find many ways to work together on a creative and professional level to the great benefit of both sides. ”