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Inaugural Middle East International Film Festival staff in place

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 category.

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 Barcelona.

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 business woman 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 world.

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

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