META Film Fest starts new chapter in Dubai's festival history

The festival at the end of October will showcase 70 movies from 25 countries with cast & crew from the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, Europe and USA in attendance to light up the red carpets and premieres, as Dubai hosts the first film festival after five years.
META Film Fest starts new chapter in Dubai's festival history

META Film Fest, a new international festival launched by META Cinema Forum, the pioneering cinema convention for Middle East and Africa, will feature more than 70 films from 25 countries on October 27-29 at VOX Cinemas - Nakheel Mall at Palm Jumeirah, Dubai.

The award-winning curation for the UAE audience is composed of 9 world premieres, 43 Middle East premieres and 12 UAE premieres, and several special screenings, with numerous feature, animation and documentary and short films being screened having received multiple nominations and awards from other international film festivals.

District Terminal, an Iranian dystopian film, has received three nominations at the Berlin International Film Festival and “Best Film” nomination at the Festival du nouveau cinema and Sao Paulo International Film Festival. The Iranian crime thriller Holy Spider received a 15-minute standing ovation at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for Palme d'Or and MORE awards. Emily, a film depiction of the life of English writer Emily Bronte, has also been nominated at the Toronto International Film Festival and Sitges – Catalonian International Film Festival. French feature film Hard Shell, Soft Shell (Fragile) has received four nominations, including “Best International Feature Fiction” in the Beirut International Women Film Festival and “Best Feature Film” at Buzz IFF.

“META Film Fest is a platform to showcase quality local, regional and international films, as well as a catalyst for a larger film industry based out of our home ground in Dubai,” said Leila Masinaei, Festival Director and Managing Partner of Great Minds Event Management.

"Each year, as part of META Cinema Forum, we had the opportunity of sharing a few premieres with the larger audience and they were always so well received and the favorite part of our programs," explained Masinaei by email, when asked for the "ah-ha" moment when the group knew a new film festival was needed in the UAE. She continued: "This initially made us discuss the absence of a film festival in Dubai. Dubai is the merging point of art and culture. Dubai hosts amazing concerts, Dubai Opera brings some of the best acts from across the world to the city, Dubai Art gathers artists from all elements of visual art around the globe to Dubai, but for many years, the absence of a film festival was truly felt. We felt like Dubai must and should have a leading film festival and having nurtured so many close relationships in this filed over the years through the forum, we felt like we were best placed to spearhead this. We do believe the festival to be perfectly aligned with Dubai’s creative economy strategy and are delighted to be able to play a small role in supporting this vision." 

Great Minds Event Management, the organizers of META Film Fest, and VOX Cinemas, its festival partners, have announced an action-packed three-day global festival which will include international premieres, regional feature films, red carpet events with stars and talents from the Arab World, Hollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood, celebrity meet and greets, a Film Fund launch, an awards ceremony, afterparties, content markets and much more.

As far as celebrities, we asked Masinaei who will attend and she replied, "I can confirm that the cast and crew from each of the films in the festival will be in attendance. So for each film, we will at least have the Director and the lead actor or actress in attendance."

META Film Fest was first announced in May this year, welcoming submissions from film makers across the UAE, Middle East and the world. It is expected to play an enabling role in revamping the regional film industry and position it in the global entertainment map as a vital platform in which diverse content is presented to an even more diverse consumer market – a vantage point of the festival being held in Dubai.

A selection committee composed of film industry experts and critics has selected the best movies from all over the world. The 56 shortlisted films will then be judged by a jury of 7 to receive one of the 10 prestigious awards at the events Awards Ceremony on 29October 2022.

The Jury is headed by Nujoom Al Ghanem, an award-winning Emirati director, poet and artist. Supporting her is the Oscar-winning Spanish producer, Andrés Vicente Gómez and award-winning Iranian producer Kaveh Farnam with winning films from multiple international festivals including Berlinale.  The other jurors are Iranian actress and director Pegah Ahangarani, award winning Turkish actress Neslihan Yeldan, Marta Svecova Lamperova and Elon D. Johnson.

What does Masinaei wish for this festival to help achieve? "We wish for this festival to be an instrumental player in Dubai’s growing creative economy strategy," she replied, continuing, "we want the festival to put Dubai on the map and become a formidable contender in the film festival arena. We want the festival to provide opportunities for Arab filmmakers to begin their journey into presenting their films to the global arena. We want the festival to provide a platform for distribution of content from UAE and the Arab region to the world and global award winning content to find its way to cinemas and other platforms in the region. In short, we want this to be the film festival in the region and create a holistic environment for nurturing talent across the industry."

Tickets for META Film Fest screenings are on sale at 

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