Digital makes debut in Dubai

Festival market adds touch-screen film library to enhance offerings

Film buyers will be able to access hundreds of new works at the touch of a button during the Dubai Film Market, an initiative of the fifth Dubai International Film Festival.

Cinetech, a digital, closed- network library, will make its Middle East debut this year, allowing industry buyers to watch films and contact filmmakers and producers.

The system will include feature films, documentaries, shorts and television content. Users at the festival can search through more than 200 works by logging on at screens inside private booths.

The Dubai Film Market will run concurrently with the festival, Dec. 11-18.

"The Dubai Film Market, partnered by Hewlett-Packard, will address the lack of an international content market in the region," DIFF chairman Abdulhamid Juma said. "Dubai is the region's hub for media and technology, and the Dubai Film Market will aim to deliver a much-needed platform, especially for Asian, Arab and African film. The market will contribute to shaping and sustaining the region's filmmaking and raising visibility."

Organizers hope the initiative will facilitate the exchange of rights, services and product ownership, empower buyers and sellers with industry knowledge, and simplify content trading.

"There is currently no global content market in the (Middle East and North Africa) region," Dubai Film Market director Ziad Yaghi said. "We're mainly buying from the U.S., despite the fact that the MENA TV market is comparable in size to the U.S., about 336 million people. The film market will bring together industry professionals from all backgrounds and give filmmakers from emerging markets the opportunity to trade their films."

All films screened at the festival will be available through Cinetech, and it is hoped the system will grow year after year.

"The Dubai Film Market will put buyers and sellers together," Juma said. "There has been this element at a more informal level in previous years, and it is hoped that introducing this will encourage even more regional trade."

There is high satellite penetration in the Persian Gulf region — about 85 percent of the population — and boxoffice admissions are at their highest levels. The United Arab Emirates has become the region's largest advertising spender.

"The mission of the Dubai Film Market is to make it a global, state-of-the-art platform that encourages the distribution and trade of film, and for Dubai to become a regional center for global audiovisual content trade," Yaghi said. (partialdiff)