Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Lends Hand To Arab Filmmakers. The Abu Dhabi Film Festival, which started Thursday, is aimed at filling a vacuum among Arab filmmakers by offering them generous financial help. The festival will also promote quality Arab movies on the international platform besides bringing world cinema to the Middle East. The fourth edition of the festival is aimed at recognizing the efforts of outstanding Arab filmmakers and encouraging Abu Dhabi as the “culture capital” of the Arab region. One of the major recognitions at the festival is the “Black Pearl” awards in each category, which are worth $1 million in all. Intishal Tamimi, festival director, said of the festival, “This is the plan of ADACH (The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage)… Through ADACH, we are trying to boost cultural activities like classical programmes, music, publishing books to Formula 1. And movies are also a part of it.”
The festival, launched in 2007 to compete with neighboring Dubai, was earlier known as the Middle East International Film Festival. It will continue until Oct. 23. Since its inception, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, along with other Gulf film festivals, has attracted more attention than other older events in the Arab world, such as the one in Cairo. However, the main concern for the organizers remains that local productions need to be encouraged in terms of quality and content. The need for such a festival is reflected in the fact that, in all, Arab countries are able to produce fewer than 20 films worthy of being showcased at film festivals around the world. The organizers as well as the filmmakers intend to change that. In fact, an attempt to provide financial help to Arab filmmakers, festival organizers have established a “Sanad” fund, which would offer subsidies between $20,000 and $60,000 to “support the new currents in the Arab cinema and encouraging artistic creativity.” This year, there are 15 entries to the festival, among which are the Sanad-supported films, “Chatti Ya Dini” (Here Comes the Rain) by Lebanese director Bahij Hojeij, Egyptian film “Rassayel El Bahr” (Messages from the Sea) by Daud Abdul Sayeed and “Rodage” (Taming) by Syrian filmmaker Nidal al-Dibs.
Katy Perry, Paramore To Salute The Troops On “VH1 Divas” Special. This year’s “VH1 Divas” is going military style. Katy Perry, Sugarland, Keri Hilson, Nicki Minaj, and Paramore have all signed on for “VH1 Divas Salute the Troops.”
For the first time, VH1 has partnered with the USO to bring the iconic event, which has boasted performances from Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Aretha Franklin, and Celine Dion in the past, and the girls to the troops and their families. Katy Perry, Sugarland, Keri Hilson, and Nicki Minaj will all perform for the troops at San Diego’s Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Paramore, fronted by “Airplanes” singer Hayley Williams, will head to an undisclosed military base in the Middle East to visit with the Marines, soldiers, airmen, and more. “VH1 Divas Salute the Troops” will also be broadcast internationally for the service men and women and their families stationed outside the U.S., courtesy of the Armed Forces Network. “The USO is thrilled to be partnering with VH1 and honored to be a part of delivering such an uplifting event to our nation’s troops,” said Sloan Gibson, USO President. “The holidays are especially tough for our men and women in uniform and their families, and having the opportunity to touch so many troops stationed around the world at a time of year that matters most lets them know that America still cares about their welfare,” Gibson continued. “There is no better time to celebrate our armed forces and support their efforts than now.” “VH1 Divas Salute the Troops” will premiere Sunday, December 5th at 9pm ET/PT on VH1
Cartoon Network Airs In Arabic Across Middle East, North Africa. The Cartoon Network will soon offer the channel in Arabic, in hopes of reaching up to 35 million homes in the Middle East and North Africa. “There’s been a great deal of demand for Arabic content in this region, and launching a 24/7 Arabic Cartoon Network channel is a further testament to our growing investment in the region,” said Chris Groves, senior vice president of Middle East business affairs for the network’s parent company Turner Broadcasting. Some shows that will become available in Arabic include Ben 10, Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. Daoud Kuttab, director-general of the Community Media Network in Amman and Ramallah, told The Media Line that while there are difficulties with Arabic dubbing, the channel should still be a hit. “I think people will watch it,” Kuttab told The Media Line. “The problem they will have is something all studios have with the classical Arabic, it sounds as if you were speaking [English] from the sixteenth century.” There is not just one standard of Arabic spoken across the Middle East and North Africa, but each country has its own dialect. Over time, these dialects have evolved into quite separate languages, so that a person from Morocco, for instance, can’t understand someone talking in an Iraqi dialect. To overcome this linguistic barrier, the classical Arabic in which the Quran was written will be used on the Cartoon Network, but this form is very different to spoken Arabic and sounds old fashioned to today’s youth. Turner previously signed a deal with Lammtara Pictures, the Dubai-based studio behind one of the most successful cartoon series in the region: FREEJ. The show follows four grandmothers in Dubai who deal with the challenges of living in a rapidly modernizing city. Under the deal, Turner will broadcast FREEJ episodes and distribute FREEJ merchandise. In exchange, Lammtara will produce a new local version of the Cartoon Network’s British Skatoony show in which children compete against cartoons; the show will feature the characters from FREEJ. The recent collaboration is not the first time that an American children’s TV show will be translated into Arabic. Thirty years ago Ifath ya Simsim, the local version of Sesame Street was first broadcast.