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Wed 26 Sep 2007 12:04 PM

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Abu Dhabi readies film festival

UAE capital is set to enter limelight with inaugural Middle East International Film Festival.

After keeping a low profile for so many years and being content to host the Emirates Film Competition annually, Abu Dhabi has finally entered the limelight with the Middle East International Film Festival (MEIFF).

MEIFF will be held this month in Abu Dhabi's Emirates Palace Hotel from October 14-19. More than 50 regional and international films will be screened at the inaugural festival. With this, the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) hopes to position the capital as the Middle East's cultural hub.

The festival includes several competitions designed for both Arab and international filmmakers. Prizes will be awarded in three categories; for documentary, narrative and short film. The winning finalists will receive production grants and the overall winner will receive a prestigious Black Pearl Award.

Other sections of the festival include a collection of high-profile films premiering in the Middle East, as well as a showcase of Bollywood and Arab cinema. Additionally, visitors will be treated to a retrospective look at the cinematic achievements of Arab women. All aspiring filmmakers can also participate in the Hayah Film Competition, which invites iPod-compatible movies of upto five minutes.

ADACH will also seek to provide opportunities to those looking to invest in the future of film through its Film Financing Circle (FFC). The inaugural conference will be held from October 15-17 during the fest. FFC serves as a forum gathering top-level financiers and executives from the international investment and entertainment arenas. It plans to unveil InCircle Pearl, a pitch programme designed to identify, develop and finance projects.

Heading the MEIFF team is executive director, Nashwa Al-Ruwainim who was named the 20th most powerful Arab businesswoman by Forbes Magazine, and festival director, Fitzgerald, who co-founded the Slamdance and Santa Barbara film festivals.