Israeli and UAE Film Bodies Sign Agreement, Plan Regional Film Festival

Nirit Anderman
Nirit Anderman
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Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.Credit: CHRISTOPHER PIKE/ REUTERS
Nirit Anderman
Nirit Anderman

A few days after the signing of the peace agreement between Israel and two of the Gulf countries, another agreement was signed – for cooperation with the United Arab Emirates in film and television. 

On the Israeli side the signatories were the Israel Film Fund and the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem, while on the other side the agreement was signed by the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, a government agency in charge of developing the film and television industry in the UAE.

The agreement will also promote workshops and joint meetings with artists and students from both countries, and the establishment of a regional film festival rotating between the two countries.

The announcement published Monday by the Israel Film Fund and the Sam Spiegel school said the signing was made possible by the peace agreement. The film cooperation agreement is to include virtual seminars and workshops with artists and writers in the film industry from both countries, professional introductory meetings for exchanging ideas on writing, developing and producing co-productions, and training and development programs for filmmakers from both countries.

“Later on, there’s a plan to establish a regional film festival, which will serve as a platform for promoting productions and co-productions and will be an opportunity for professional encounters between filmmakers from both countries,” according to an announcement published by Israel Film Fund CEO Lisa Shiloah Uzrad, and CEO of the Sam Spiegel school Dana Blankstein Cohen.

There are also plans for educational cooperation, with students of film from the Emirates to be invited as guests in “residence programs” at Sam Spiegel, and film projects in the Emirates participating in the Jerusalem school’s “Hothouse” program. In the annual Hothouse competition next year a director from the UAE will be invited to serve as a member of the judges’ panel.

Meanwhile, a film by a UAE filmmaker is presently participating in a new Israeli film festival – the 1st CARMEL International Short Film Festival, which will take place online. The short film “Recognition” was shot in the UAE by director Shaheer Sha, a director of Indian origin who has been living in the country for the past 15 years. The 23-minute film is being presented in the category of feature films, and tells about a man who is required to deal on his own with an existential threat during a journey through the breathtaking dunes and untamed landscape of the UAE. The director will be a guest at an online meeting with viewers as part of the festival.

A still from the short film “Recognition,” shot in the UAE by director Shaheer Sha.Credit: Sulthan M Ali

According to a report in the daily Israel Hayom last week, the first Israeli television show that will travel to film a Western in Dubai will be the satirical program “A Wonderful Country.” According to the report, the editors of the program had planned to begin filming but the project was postponed and at the moment they are trying to find another date.

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