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Film Financing Circle central program in the first annual Middle East Film Fest – Abu Dhabi

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 preeminent 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.
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