Middle East International Film Festival Announces First Annual Film Financing Circle



    InCircle Pearl Pitch Competition to Have Powerhouse Team Support

    ABU DHABI, UAE, September 10 /CNW/ - A central program in the first
annual Middle East International Film Festival - Abu Dhabi (October 14-19,
2007) is the Film Financing Circle (FFC), taking place October 15-17, 2007.
Located at the luxurious Emirates Palace, the event is comprised of several
extraordinary elements guaranteed to optimize networking connections for
industry insiders and power players attending from around the world.

    "Since the conception of the festival, I have wanted to offer an arena
where global financiers, executives and filmmakers could meet and collaborate
on film funds and co-productions, says Executive Director Nashwa Al-Ruwaini.
"That vision is a reality with our Film Financing Circle."

    Unlike many traditional festival conferences, the goal of the FFC is to
offer more than just information. The conference will provide industry
insiders with fresh and innovative investment options while allowing
filmmakers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to have their work brought to fruition.

    "The Film Financing Circle presents a multi-tiered approach to raising
the international entertainment community's awareness of Abu Dhabi's emergence
onto the film scene," says Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon al Nahyan. "We look
forward to creating a foundation for new possibilities in the filmmaking world
here in the region."

    Within the FFC, top-level financiers and executives from the
international investment and entertainment arenas will collaborate and
participate in a variety of unique programming.

    "Before the Festival begins we are hosting an exclusive Retreat for
financiers and executives from around the world who have put together existing
film funds and co-productions," explains Conference Director, Adrienne Briggs.
"The Retreat for the new Abu Dhabi Film Fund will take place in a beautifully
relaxed setting that encourages brainstorming creative and inspired solutions
to bridge the co-production gap between the Middle East and the rest of the
world."

    The Film Financing Circle's Program will consist of:

    Panel Discussions - International players will outline and debate finance
options and discuss current and future markets. Each day will focus on a
different aspect of production.

    Luncheon Presentations - As the guests enjoy their cuisine, industry
veterans will provide content on the state of financing and emerging market
trends.

    Afternoon Breakout sessions - Hosted roundtable discussions and case
studies will allow a more intimate setting for in-depth conversations and will
be followed by a daily reception in the Collaboration Oasis.

    In addition to the general conference program, the FFC will produce a
unique pitch program. The InCircle Pearl is a competitive program designed to
identify, develop and finance a new project. Throughout the three-day FFC
event, six powerhouse InCircle Teams will create a marketing and finance
strategy for six chosen projects. The filmmakers will then have the
opportunity to pitch their project to a juried panel of industry
professionals.

    The winner of the InCircle Pearl grant and details about the new Abu
Dhabi Film Fund, set up to foster global co-productions, will be unveiled at
the Film Financing Circle's Closing Night Gala.

    The Film Financing Circle is poised to have a tremendous impact in its
inaugural year and promises to provide unique opportunities to everyone
involved. International conference attendees will include agents, attorneys,
bankers, distributors, filmmakers, financiers, producers, studio executives,
and Emiratis interested in filmmaking.

    Confirmed InCircle Guests of the Film Financing Circle include:

    Ashok Amritraj - Chairman and CEO, Hyde Park Entertainment - Amritraj is
a successful producer with a first look deal at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and a
second look deal at Disney, as well as a long-term pan-European deal with
Epsilon, the powerful European media consortium. Hyde Park intends to produce
four major motion pictures yearly, with budgets of $30 - $90 million each.

    Thomas Augsberger - President, Eden Rock Media - Augsberger oversees the
production, financing and consulting business based in Los Angeles that
utilizes German investment funds for co-productions. He also represents
Herbert Kloiber's Munich based Tele Muenchen Group in the U.S. and served on
the board of Lions Gate from 2002 to 2003.

    Anthony Beaudoin - Senior VP and Manager of Film Finance, The Bank of
Ireland - Beaudoin has a long history in entertainment lending, most recently
at seasoned film financing house Natexis Banques Populaires. At Bank of
Ireland, Beaudoin oversees single-picture finance deals as well as financing
for larger ventures such as the $205 million financing for Groundswell
Productions and the $240 million fundraising for Dark Castle Productions.

    Mark Damon - CEO, Foresight Unlimited - Damon is a pioneer in the
financing, distribution, and marketing of films as well as a highly successful
independent producer. He has produced or executive produced over 70
successful, critically acclaimed and profitable films, including Das Boot, 9
1/2 Weeks, Monster, and The Upside of Anger. Damon is one of the original
founding members of the American Film Marketing Association and currently
serves as Vice Chairman of Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA).

    Craig Emanuel - Partner and Chair, Loeb & Loeb - Emanuel's principal
practice area is entertainment law, involving representation of writers,
directors, actors, and producers in all aspects of motion picture and
television transactions, both at studio and independent levels. Emanuel is
also involved in the negotiation of strategic distribution relationships with
the major studios.

    Robert Hayward - Chief Operating Officer, Summit Entertainment - Hayward
has been a member of Summit's senior management for many years. Summit has
long been a leading international production and sales company. In April of
this year, Summit became a full-service mini-studio when they closed a billion
dollar finance arrangement with Merrill Lynch and a consortium of investors.
With this development, they have greatly expanded their production slate and
launched a domestic distribution operation.

    Michael Ryan - Co-Chairman, Handmade Films - Ryan, a veteran British film
executive and sales agent, and his partner Guy Collins are turning the
20-year-old Handmade Films brand into an integrated U.K. based entertainment
company. While at Sequence, the duo worked with key industry partners to
finance and sell an unprecedented number of movies, many of them
co-productions, using all manner of financing tools. Ryan is also Chairman of
the IFTA.

    Hal Sadoff - Agent, International Creative Management - Sadoff joined ICM
as head of international and independent film in December 2004, overseeing
packaging, financing, and sales for independent films. Over the past 19 years,
Sadoff has played an integral role structuring the financing for over 200 film
productions totaling more than $2.5 billion dollars.

    Anant Singh - CEO, VideoVision Entertainmnet - Singh is recognized as
South Africa's pre-eminent film producer, having produced fifty-eight films
since 1984 including the top-grossing South African film of all time, Mr
Bones. He is responsible for many of the great anti-apartheid films made in
South Africa, including Place Of Weeping, Sarafina!, and Cry, the Beloved
Country. Nelson Mandela called him "a producer I respect very much...a man of
tremendous ability," when he granted him the film rights to his autobiography,
Long Walk To Freedom, which is set to shoot next year. Due to his expertise in
media and entertainment, Singh has been appointed to the Board of Governors
for Media and Entertainment at the World Economic Forum.

    Aki Sugihara - President and COO, AMG Entertainment, Inc.- AMG is a major
Japanese producer and distributor of entertainment media, including feature
films, anime, and music. In Aki's previous role as one of the heads of
Japanese distribution giant, Gaga Communications, he oversaw the release of
such films as The Mask and Green Mile as well as negotiating output
arrangements with New Line Cinema and co-production arrangements with a number
of U.S. independent companies.

    David M. Thompson - Head, BBC Films - Thompson has brought in feature
projects such as the worldwide hit Billy Elliot, Mansfield Park and Dirty
Pretty Things and such prestigious TV projects as The Gathering Storm and The
Lost Prince. His philosophy states that instead of competing with big studio
pictures, he chooses high quality, script-driven projects for which the BBC
has always been known.

    Parminder Vir, OBE - Consultant, Ingenious Media - Vir is a consultant in
charge of Ingenious World Cinema, a major U.K. funding source investing in
content originating from the emerging markets including India, China, South
Africa, Brazil, Argentina and the diaspora. She also served as a Board
Director of the U.K. Film Council from 1999-2005.

    Peter Watson - Chief Executive, Recorded Picture Company - One of the
principal production forces in the U.K., he started in the film business at
the Entertainment Finance Division of Guinness Mahon & Co in 1991 as a banker.
He left in 1994 to manage the film rights interests of Jeremy Thomas and
Bernardo Bertolucci, and was then appointed head of business affairs at
Recorded Picture Company. In 1999, he co-founded HanWay, the international
sales and distribution company where he remains a board member and
shareholder.

    The Middle East International Film Festival - Abu Dhabi (MEIFF) is a
cultural event dedicated to bringing a diverse slate of international films
and programs to the community and introducing filmmakers from around the world
to the resources of the region. Presented by the Abu Dhabi Authority for
Culture and Heritage (ADACH), MEIFF is committed to nurturing relationships
and providing opportunities to those looking to invest in the future of film.
In this regard, the Festival will launch the inaugural Film Financing Circle
(FFC), which will become a significant annual conference on the subject of
international co-productions.

    The Middle East International Film Festival - Abu Dhabi (MEIFF) debuts
October 14-19, 2007 and the Film Financing Circle (FFC) launches October
15-17, 2007. Abu Dhabi is a city unprecedented in its ability to develop and
grow in response to the global marketplace.

    For more information and accreditation forms, please visit www.meiff.com.




For further information:

For further information: Middle East International Film Festival USA:
Jennifer Chikes, 917-687-5476 jenny@meiff.com UAE: Hana Al-Hirsi, 00 971 50
818 75 18 hana@meiff.com

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MIDDLE EAST INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

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