Ali Al Jabri Replaces Peter Scarlet as Director of Abu Dhabi Film Festival

Peter Scarlet Tribeca Film Festival 2007 - P 2012
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Peter Scarlet Tribeca Film Festival 2007 - P 2012

Previously the director of the festival's Emirates Film Competition, he worked closely with Scarlet and will now run the festival for Abu Dhabi media hub TwoFour54.

Film festival veteran Peter Scarlet and the Abu Dhabi Film Festival have officially parted ways, with Ali Al Jabri on Tuesday being announced as the new festival director.

Previously the director of the festival's Emirates Film Competition, he has been with the festival for five years, worked closely with Scarlet and will now run the whole annual event for Abu Dhabi media hub TwoFour54.

The news comes after industry chatter late last week that Scarlet had decided to depart - and other rumors that he had been fired.
The festival is scheduled to take place in the emirate Oct. 11-20 this year.

It wasn't immediately clear what Scarlet would do next.

Scarlet had left his role as creative director of the Tribeca Film Festival in early 2009, then served for a year as the director general of the Cinematheque Francaise, and then took over the Abu Dhabi fest. Before his seven years working on Tribeca, he ran the San Francisco International Film Festival for nearly 20 years.

The ADFF launched in 2007 with the goal of helping to create a vibrant film culture throughout the region. Earlier this year, it came under the purview of TwoFour54, the government-backed media and creative industries hub in the emirate, which has attracted media and entertainment companies to make Abu Dhabi a player in the industry and a key place for Hollywood companies looking for a presence or production location in the Persian Gulf region.

That shift seems to have led to Scarlet's exit, although the festival didn't mention any conflicts between the management of TwoFour54 and the festival director.

"The move to TwoFour54 is a positive for both organizations as they work to showcase regional and international cinema, support the development of emerging Arab cinema, Arabic media and entertainment content to establish Abu Dhabi as an international center of excellence," TwoFour54 said in announcing the news.

Noura Al Kaabi, CEO of twofour54, said: “Today is a very important milestone in the event’s history. Ali has been instrumental in developing the Emirates Film Competition, and we are sure he will bring the same level of passion and enthusiasm to his new role.”

The new festival director said he was "proud and excited about the new role,” adding: “This shows the tremendous opportunities that are now opening up in the media industry for United Arab Emirates nationals, and I hope that I can encourage a new generation to want to be a part of such an exciting industry as we position Abu Dhabi as a creative hub for film production in the region.”

Wayne Borg, deputy CEO and COO of TwoFour54, during the Cannes Film Festival in May unveiled a 30 percent production tax rebate program, which starts in September and makes the emirate the first location offering such incentives in the region. The hub in Cannes also announced that Digital Domain would open a studio in Abu Dhabi.


Twitter: @georgszalai