The Abu Dhabi Film Festival has been surprisingly scrapped after eight editions during which the event gradually earned a significant spot on the international festival circuit.
The good news is that the fest's Sanad film fund for Arab films in development and post is still in place and hopefully will remain so going forward.
"In a refocusing of its film activities to reflect the rapid growth in the region, Media Zone Authority has announced that the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF) is being brought to a close in order to focus on future targeted initiatives to further support local and Arab filmmakers and attract more film productions to Abu Dhabi," the fest said in a terse statement.
The statement described the move as "the next phase" in growing Abu Dhabi's "maturing film industry."
A further announcement is expected soon explaining what that "next phase" will entail.
Sources say Abu Dhabi's government-funded Media Zone will introduce a hefty film fund to attract more international productions to Abu Dhabi, which recently lured shoots of the latest "Fast & Furious" and "Star Wars" installments through their 30 percent cash-back rebate.
The Middle East's festival landscape has been in flux in recent years, with Doha ending its Doha/Tribeca fest to focus on local productions with its new Qumra event, which blends creative workshop, industry networking, and festival elements, and Dubai downsizing its market component and zeroing on local distribution woes for Arab pics by forging a deal with some of the region's top distributors.
The absence of Abu Dhabi on the somewhat crowded Arab film fest calendar is likely to become a blow for Arab producers and will strengthen the roles as Arab cinema drivers of the Dubai fest and also of the Cairo Film Festival, which is being relaunched.
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