Inaugural Middle East International Film Festival Takes Shape

    International All-Star Team Now in Place

    ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, August 7 /CNW/ - The official website
has launched ( for the first annual Middle East International
Film Festival (MEIFF), premiering October 14-19, 2007; and the Call for
Entries is now under way. Over five days, MEIFF will present more than 50
films within a diverse slate of regional and international films with an
emphasis on emerging artists. Grand Jury Prize winners will receive
substantial production grants towards the funding of their next project,
awarded in the categories of Narrative, Documentary, and Short.

    The Festival's trophies will be handmade sculptures, representing the
exquisite Black Pearl, a rare and precious jewel originally discovered along
the shallow waters of the Abu Dhabi coastline, a powerful symbol linked to the
history and culture of the Abu Dhabi region.

    The Festival will be comprised of the following sections:

    Official Competition

    This section will present a taste of international cinema, featuring
films by new filmmakers, competing for the Black Pearl. The section will
include Narrative and Documentary films with Grand Jury Prizes offered in each

    Short Film Competition

    Short films from around the world star in a program demonstrating
standout work from new filmmakers.

    Middle East Showcase

    Films from the Middle East light up the screen in a program designed to
celebrate talents from the region.


    A collection of high profile films making their international premiere.

    Bollywood Spotlight

    In celebration of the 60th Anniversary of India's Independence, the
Festival will exhibit a selection of these energetic and spectacular features.

    Additionally, the Festival has secured an extraordinary team of
international talents from the Middle East, Europe and the United States to
program and organize this year's festival. Seasoned veterans joining Executive
Director Nashwa Al Ruwaini and Festival Director Jon Fitzgerald include:
Claudia Durgnat as Managing Director, Adrienne Briggs as Film Financing Circle
Director, Ian Birnie as Jury President, and Rob Aft as Film Financing
Consultant. Led by Fitzgerald, the programming team will include former AFI
Director of Programming Nancy Collet, and Alice Kharoubi of Cannes and

    Jon Fitzgerald, Claudia Durgnat and Adrienne Briggs are attending Locarno
this week in full force to celebrate the Open Doors section of the Festival
which focuses on the Middle East this year.

    More Biographical information on the MEIFF Team is below:

    Nashway Al Ruwaini, Executive Director (Egypt)

    With 18 years of media experience in the region, Nashwa has gone from one
success to another having been ranked among the top three most influential
women in the Middle East in 2006 and also the 20th most powerful businesswoman
in the Arab World by the American magazine FORBES. As part of her efforts as
CEO of Pyramedia and host of a successful self-titled television show, Nashwa
has been involved in many initiatives promoting Arab talent and thought to the

    Jon Fitzgerald, Festival Director (United States)

    Jon has over 15 years of experience in the studio, independent, and film
festival communities. In addition to consulting to many internationally
recognized film festivals, he co-founded the Slamdance Film Festival and
served as its Executive Director before becoming Festival Director for the
American Film Institute (AFI) and the Santa Barbara International Film
Festival. He is CEO of Right Angle Studios, a company devoted to film festival
and filmmaker consulting.

    Claudia Durgnat, Managing Director (Switzerland)

    Over the last 20 years, Claudia became a worldwide festival
director/producer focusing on cross-cultural exchange promoting international
artists in film, music, and art events across the globe. Festival credits
include the Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland, the Festival of the 5 senses,
French Film Festival COLCOA, and Very Short Movies in Hollywood.

    Adrienne Briggs, Conference Director (United States)

    Adrienne has more than a decade of international experience as a producer
on documentaries, commercials and film productions. She has also created a
multitude of high profile entertainment events and conferences designed to
connect promising young filmmakers with industry execs and financiers. Her
client list includes AFI Fest, Arte, Canal Plus, Film France, IBM, IFP West,
Kodak, Los Angeles Film Festival, Red Bull and the WGA.

    Rob Aft, Financing Conference Consultant (United States/Spain)

    Rob is the president of Compliance Consulting, a Los Angeles based media
consultancy currently serving a variety of clients working mainly in the areas
of finance and distribution of films. Mr. Aft has served as President of
International Distribution at The Kushner-Locke Company, Senior VP of MDP
Worldwide, where he was responsible for all aspects of international sales and
operations for the theatrical films produced by the company as well as VP of
International at Trimark Pictures and Head of International at Troma, Inc.

    Ian Birnie, Jury President (United States)

    Ian Birnie has been the Director of the Film Department of the Los
Angeles County Museum of Art since 1996, and regularly consults on special
projects for the Hamburg-based European Film Promotion. Among his previous
positions was that of Director of Distribution for Janus Films in New York as
well as programmer for the Toronto Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival,
and the Bangkok International Film Festival. In 2003, the French government
named him a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

    Nancy Collet, Programmer (United States)

    Most recently Nancy was the Programming Director for AFI (2000-2007).
After working for many years for studios and film festivals she founded NCI
Film Consulting in 2007.

    Alice Kharoubi, Programmer (France)

    Alice has worked as a programmer for the Barcelona Film Festival, and
been responsible for the Short Film Corner for the Cannes Film Festival.

    The Middle East International Film Festival (MEIFF) is a cultural event
dedicated to bringing a diverse slate of international films to the community
and to introducing filmmakers from the around the world to the resources of
the region. Hosted by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage
(ADACH), a city both awash in capital and unprecedented in its ability to
develop and grow in response to the global marketplace, 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, which will become a significant annual conference on
the subject of international co-productions.

    For more information on the festival, please visit for
details or for entries.

For further information:

For further information: for Middle East International Film Festival -
Abu Dhabi Jennifer Chikes, 917-687-5476

Organization Profile


More on this organization

Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890