Dubai Film Festival Rakes in Millions

Festivals
by Sydney Levine
November 30, 2013 4:30 PM
2 Comments
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Around the same time, ten years ago(!), as Doha Film Festival and Abu Dhabi Film Festival were beginning, at the peak of the world’s awareness that the Arab world not only was extremely rich but was also interested in breaking into the international film business through its extravagant and, at the same time, business oriented film festivals with markets attached, Dubai, under the leadership of DIFF chairman Abdulhamid Juma and Shivani Pandya, made a strong impression on us and has remained the frontrunner of the three in our mind. They have maintained stability in staffing and have not changed course. Their mixture of Western and Arab sensibilities seems to work well for all including Africa and Asia. Last year more than 1,600 industry delegates from 88 countries,1,300 media delegates and hundreds of filmmakers from Asia, Africa and the Arab world attended DIFF.

This very interesting report comes from From 7 Days in Dubai.  How do other festivals calculate the financials of their event? Read below how Dubai is measured.

From Hollywood film directors gulping cups of Arabic coffee between screenings to Tom Cruise scaling the Burj Khalifa, organisers of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) on Sunday said the event has raised Dhs188 million ($51 million) for the emirate’s economy since it began in 2003.

The Dubai International Film Festival has raised Dhs188 million ($51 million) for the emirate’s economy since it began in 2003

The fresh figure comes ahead of the 10th anniversary of the star-studded festival - which runs from December 6 to 14 this year.

DIFF chairman Abdulhamid Juma said the figure - arrived at after research from an independent international consultant - “shows business-minded people” that the film bash is a valid contributor in Dubai’s economic growth.

“They ask ‘why are you doing this’?” said Juma. “‘Why are you flying these people to Dubai? What does it give to us?’”

Juma responded directly to such often-made queries on Sunday. “We’ve calculated that this festival has a lot of economic impact,” he said. “You don’t necessarily see it because so much else happens in Dubai - but if this festival was the only thing in Dubai then [you would].”

Juma said a company that provides economic data for various film festivals across the world collated the numbers. The detailed sums include spending at malls frequented by visiting film crews, what coffees they bought and what cars they rented. It also examined how many industry players choose to visit the emirate with their families. Many do, according to Juma.

“A lot of stars come back to this place,” said Juma. “I know because I go and see them.

“They love this place. Gerard Butler came back, Zac Efron came back.”

The Emirati film chief added that last year he saw an interview with Morgan Freeman on television filmed “somewhere on Earth”.

“He was wearing a Jumeirah cap,” Juma said, adding that it’s not just the stars but also others from the film industry that return.

The Dhs188 million sum is from 2003 up until 2011 - and includes Tom Cruise’s Hollywood blockbuster ‘Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol’, which raised an estimated Dhs80 million alone for Dubai and had its world premiere at DIFF 2011.

The film was the most successful ever at the box office for Cruise - who famously attempted to climb the world’s tallest building in the flick - raking in nearly $500 million worldwide.

DIFF has also created an estimated $1 billion in global media coverage, Juma said.

Two years ago they partnered with the Film Society of New York’s Lincoln Center to showcase Arab cinema in a special DIFF Focus. This year in partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a delegation will attend the 10th edition of DIFF (Dec 6-14) to deliver a program of events. Highlights will include a panel discussion with members of Academy titled “Beyond the Oscars,” an open session that will provide an overview of AMPAS and masterclasses for filmmakers.

The delegation includes Sid Ganis, producer and former president of the Academy; Vicangelo Bulluck, Academy md of outreach and strategic initiatives; Ellen Harrington, Academy Museum, director of exhibitions and collections; and Academy members, directors Ava DuVernay and Shekhar Kapur. DuVernay and Kapur will present “An Academy Conversation on Directing,” where they will discuss their personal experiences and insights on the impact that changing moviegoer demographics and new technologies have on the filmmaking process. DIFF chairman Abdulhamid Juma said: “This will be a fantastic opportunity for DIFF audiences to gain an insight from Academy members about their craft, films and anecdotes from their illustrious careers.”

Read more on this HERE
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2 Comments

  • Sydney | December 3, 2013 5:33 PMReply

    Thanks for keeping up with SydneysBuzz!

  • David Gerson | December 1, 2013 4:07 PMReply

    Fascinating and great to know. Thanks for the article Sydney!

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