Rebecca Hawkes ©RapidTVNews | 31-07-2011

A tie-up between Abu Dhabi production house Imagenation and Empire International, the Lebanese movie distribution company, is set to increase exposure of Emirati films across the Middle East and North Africa.
“We have a mission to help the film industry in the UAE because it is still in its early stages. It’s in a period of development,” Michael Garin, chief executive of Imagenation told Gulf News.

“[Emirati] film makers have the creativity to create any work they want, but those close to the customers are the distributors. That is why having this partnership with Empire is perfect. We’ll be able to combine the film makers’ creativity with market input to create a formula for success,” he added.

Empire will distribute Imagenation’s films in Lebanon, Egypt, Kuwait, the West Bank and Gaza, Sudan, Tunisia, Mauritania, Algeria, Iran, and across the UAE.

The first film to fall under the deal is the coming of age story Sea Shadow, from the director of The Circle, Nawaf Al Janahi. The Arabian horror, Djin, will follow - directed by Tobe Hooper of Texas Chain Saw Massacre fame.

Mario G Haddad, chief executive officer of Empire International, told Gulf News that it will be a challenge to screen Emirati films as they are not well known, even within the UAE, and some countries such as Egypt “tend not to screen other Arab movies”. The films also vie for attention amid the proliferation of popular Hollywood blockbusters in the region.

Empire is initiating a host of marketing campaigns to increase awareness of Emirati films, including internet ads, Facebook pages, and special screenings.
“One of the most important elements is word-of-mouth and instant reviews, such as on Twitter or other movie review websites, which can make or break a film’s success,” Mr Haddad told Gulf News.

“Hopefully, as we begin unveiling each campaign and as audiences begin to familiarise themselves with Emirati and other Abu Dhabi-based films, they will provide positive feedback about them that will then lead to their overall screening success.”