The Middle East International Film Festival, which was announced at Cannes, is set to run October 12-17 in Abu Dhabi. Now we know who's going to be running the fest: film fest veteran Jon Fitzgerald, who co-founded Slamdance before moving on to become festival director for the American Film Institute (AFI), and then exec director of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. When the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage announced the fest back in May, it also announced the formation of the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, which will both support filmmakers wishing to film in the region and provide grants and development funding. The fest will be exec directed by Nashwa Al-Ruwaini, "one of the most powerful women in Arab media," according to the press release.

With the announcement of Fitzgerald taking on the fest director role comes more details about the setup of the fest, and it sure looks like Abu Dhabi is serious about making this more than just another film festival. Fitzgerald will be working with a company called Pyramedia, LLC, a media prodco and entertainment outfit that will produce the fest. According to today's announcement, the fest won't just be screening films for the locals. Al-Ruwaini says about the fest, "In addition to providing International and regional filmmakers with festival exposure, MEIFF will help to secure appropriate film financing opportunities for the International investment community. MEIFF aims to set itself apart from the plethora of festivals by developing a comprehensive Film Financing Conference, with industry leaders and filmmakers sharing their experience and vision for the future with festival guests, as well as the International and regional investment communities."

The fest is putting its money where its mouth is -- Grand Jury prize winners will receive a production financing grant (the release doesn't say for how much) toward their next project. Well, cool. It'll be interesting to see what kind of slate the fest ends up with -- no word on that in the press release, but October will be here before you can say "hey, another film festival," so I'd expect to hear about the fest's lineup pretty soon. We'll bring you more info on the fest as we get it. In the meantime, if you're thinking about making travel plans to the fest, check out the Abu Dhabi website for cultural info (female filmmakers, film journalists and guests will be glad to know there are no special dress or behavioral restrictions for women in Abu Dhabi). And hey, in case you need more than just movies to motivate you to go hang in Abu Dhabi for a week, take a look at the fest's main venue, the Emirates Palace. Pretty posh, eh?
categories Movies, Cinematical