Weinstein keys MEIFF event

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- Harvey Weinstein will open the Film Financing Circle at the inaugural Middle East International Film Festival.

After several weeks of speculation, the Miramax co-founder and Weinstein Co. co-chief has been revealed as the "big name" keynote speaker who will kick-start the high-powered film networking event, the first of its kind in the Middle East.

Weinstein will launch the program with a speech on the state of international co-productions.

The FFC program is set for Oct. 15-17 at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi and will encompass several events designed to connect international financiers, film executives and producers from around the world. The FFC aims to create opportunities for the region's burgeoning film industry and raise the profile of Abu Dhabi as it seeks to place itself firmly on the international film scene.

"I'm delighted to have Harvey kick off the conference. He epitomizes the international power players Abu Dhabi would like to partner with," conference director Adrienne Briggs said. "By the end of the FFC, I'm confident the international motion picture industry will recognize the potential Abu Dhabi has to become a leading film community in the Middle East."

During the FFC, top-level financiers, local business executives and international investors will participate in programs to provide industry insiders with investment options while allowing filmmakers the opportunity to bring their projects to fruition. Among the initiatives are the new Abu Dhabi Film Fund, designed to bridge the co-production and financing gap that exists between Europe, the U.S. and the rest of the world, and the InCircle Pearl Grant, which will expose emerging filmmakers to high-level industry decision-makers and facilitate the financing of their projects.

"The significant level of capital accessible in Abu Dhabi is one reason we've been able to attract the high-profile executives attending," executive director Nashwa Al Ruwaini said.

Joining Weinstein will be a panel of industry professionals: Paul Federbush, senior vp production and acquisitions at Warner Bros.; Isabel Begg, senior legal and business affairs manager at BBC Films; producer Branko Lustig ("Schindler's List"); Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos; Deepak Nayar, executive producer for Kintop Pictures ("Lost Highway," "The End of Violence"); and Deborah Zipser, head of business affairs at River Road Entertainment ("Brokeback Mountain").
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