Israel, Abu Dhabi Sign Film Cooperation Pact, Plan Joint Film Festival

Image Nation Abu Dhabi, Israeli Film Fund, Sam Spiegel Film & Television School

Mohamed Al Mubarak, Chairman of Image Nation Abu Dhabi, Lisa Shiloach-Uzrad, Executive Director of the Israeli Film Fund, Dana Blankstein-Cohen, Executive Director of Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film & Television School

Joint training programs, film and TV co-productions, and a regional film festival are among the projects planned by the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, the Israel Film Fund, and the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film and Television School. 

The film and television industries of Israel and the United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi unveiled a historic agreement on Monday that will see the two Middle Eastern regions cooperate on training, co-productions, and a joint film festival. 

The goodwill agreement between the Abu Dhabi Film Commission (ADFC), the Israel Film Fund (IFF), and the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film & Television School (JSFS), follows the normalizing of relations between Israel and the UAE, long-time adversaries, earlier this month. The U.S. government helped broker the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, as well as a similar normalization deal between Israel and Bahrain. 

Under the agreement, Israel and Abu Dhabi will set up joint training and development programs for Emirati and Israeli filmmakers in partnership with the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film & Television School. The goal is to allow filmmakers from both countries to participate in script co-development workshops over a period of several months, with the aim of developing and producing Abu Dhabi-Israel film and television co-productions.

Abu Dhabi and Israel also plan to hold a regional film festival to showcase Emirati and Israeli productions and co-productions. The collaborations between the film and TV industries of Israel and Abu Dhabi will center on generating "goodwill and bilateral cooperation" with a special focus on "promoting tolerance through the medium of film and television production," the institutions said in a statement. 

"The art of film is a universal language which can serve as a bridge between cultures and people," said Lisa Shiloach-Uzrad, executive director of the IFF. "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."

The partnership will see Emirati students selected for the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film and Television School as well as the upcoming International Film Lab. One UAE director will be invited to participate in the jury at the Film Lab competition in 2021. 

Monday's announcement is only the beginning. Abu Dhabi and Israel hope to soon announce a bilateral film co-production agreement to make cross-border productions easier.