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Abu Dhabi Film Festival

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Abu Dhabi Film Festival
مهرجان أبو ظبي السينمائي
LocationAbu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
AwardsBlack Pearl Awards
Festival dateOctober

The Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF; Arabic: مهرجان أبو ظبي السينمائي), formerly the Middle East International Film Festival (MEIFF), was an international film festival held in the city of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates from 2007 to 2015.


The Middle East International Film Festival (MEIFF) debuted in 2007, in an effort to rival the "cultural dominance of Dubai",[1] with 152 movies and 186 screenings shown in five Abu Dhabi venues. It was established with the support of H.E. Mohammed Khalaf AL Mazroui as General Director of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage (ADACH), and Nashwa Al Ruwaini as executive director. In 2008[citation needed] Lebanese filmmaker Imad DeirAtany joined the team.[2] In its first few editions, it aimed to showcase international films.[1]

In 2010, for the 4th edition of the festival, ADACH developed the festival's brand and changed its name to Abu Dhabi Film Festival. Peter Scarlet, former artistic director of the San Francisco International Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival,[a] was appointed director of the festival, and its focus changed to showcasing Arab cinema as well as bringing quality international films to Arab audiences.[1]

In 2011, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival launched the SANAD development and post-production fund for cineastes from the Arab world. With the goal of encouraging independent and auteur-based cinema, eligible filmmakers had access to grants, screenwriting workshops, and personal meetings with industry mentors and experts.[4]

From 2012, the festival was part of the Abu Dhabi Media Zone Authority, specifically under Media Zone Events and powered by its partner company, twofour54.[5] In August 2012 Scarlet left the role, shortly before the event was staged in October of that year, and his colleague Ali Al Jabri took over the position.[3]

ADFF was officially scrapped after eight editions in 2015.[5][6]


The event was held annually in October in the city of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The ADFF aimed to showcase the best films from the region alongside standout productions from prominent international filmmakers.[7]

Noteworthy names attending ADFF included director Michael Greenspan (best known for his feature film Wrecked, which debuted there in 2009), as well as actors such as Uma Thurman and Adrien Brody, who attended in 2010.[8]

In October 2009, The Guardian published an article about the origins and intent of the MEIFF. The article noted that although the host country then had only a small indigenous film-making industry, the film festival could serve a variety of constructive purposes.[9]

Selected events


Films included in the 2010 edition included:

Black Pearl Award

2011 winners

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Short Narrative Competition
  • First Prize (AED 30,000) – SOUL, directed by Fatma Abdulla (UAE)
  • Second Prize (AED 25,000) – DREAMS OF RICE, by Yasser Al Neyadi and Hana Al Shatri (UAE)
  • Third Prize (AED 20,000) – TELEPHONI, directed by Hassan Kiyany (UAE)
  • Special Jury Award (AED 25,000) – RANEEN, directed by Maitham Al Musawi (Oman)
  • Best Emirati Film (AED 25,000) – SOUL, directed by Fatma Abdulla (UAE)
  • Best Script (AED 10,000) – SINGLE MALE, by Imad DeirAtany (Lebanon) / DREAMS OF RICE, by Yasser Al Neyadi and Hana Al Shatri (UAE)
  • Best Cinematography (AED 10,000) – WIND, directed by Waleed Al Shehhi (UAE)
Short Documentary Competition
  • First prize: (AED 30,000) – A Falcon Will Not Breed a Dove,[16] by Mansour Al Dhaheri (UAE)[17]
  • Second Prize (AED 25,000) – PHOTON, by Awadh Al Hamzani (Saudi Arabia)
  • Third Prize (AED 20,000) – A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, by Fahmi Farahat (Saudi Arabia)
  • Special Jury Award (AED 25,000) – LETTERS TO PALESTINE, by Rashid Al Marri (UAE)
Student Short Narrative Competition
  • First Prize (AED 20,000) – MAHER’S CAMERA, by Mansour Al Badran (Saudi Arabia)
  • Second Prize (AED 15,000) – MAD CAMEL, by Mohammed Fikree (UAE)
  • Third Prize (AED 10,000) – DINNER #7665, by Salma Serry (UAE, Egypt)
Student Short Documentary Competition
  • First Prize (AED 20,000) – 6 ON 18, by Salma Serry (UAE, Egypt)
  • Second Prize (AED 15,000) – LAYERS, by Manal Wicki (UAE)
  • Third Prize (AED 10,000) – LAHJATNA (OUR ACCENT), by Mariam Al Nuaimi (UAE)
International Short Film Competition

The 2011 selection featured 31 films from 23 countries, as well as two newly launched awards for producers of short films.

  • Best Narrative ($25,000) – A MARRIAGE, directed by Henning Rosenlund (Norway)
  • Best Documentary ($25,000) – WRITTEN IN INK, directed by Martin Rath (Poland)
  • Best Animation ($20,000) – LUMINARIS, directed by Juan Pablo Zaramella (Argentina), shared with SPECKY FOUR-EYES, directed by Jean-Claude Rozec (France)
  • Best Film from the Arab World ($25,000) – FAREWELL EXILE, directed by Lamia Alami (Morocco)
  • Best Producer ($10,000) – Arben Zharku (Kosovo) for THE WEDDING TAPE
  • Best Producer from the Arab World ($10,000) – YACINE BOUAZIZ (Algeria) for TOMORROW, ALGIERS?

2009 winners

In 2009, 16 Black Pearl awards were given in 3 major categories (narrative, documentary, and short films). Also given were also 7 Jury Special Mention awards, and one Audience Choice Award. Among all entries worldwide, the best film winners were as follows:[18]

The Black Pearl Award for Best Narrative Film – $100,000

Hipsters (Stilyagi)
Director: Valery Todorovsky (Russia)

The Black Pearl Award for Best Documentary Film – $100,000

The Frontier Gandhi: Badshah Khan, A Torch for Peace
Director: T. C. McLuhan (Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, USA)

The Black Pearl Award for Best Narrative Short – $25,000

The Six Dollar Fifty Man
Director: Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland (New Zealand)

The Black Pearl Award for Best Narrative Short – $25,000

Director: Supriyo Sen and Najaf Bilgrami (Pakistan, India, Germany)

2008 winners

The Black Pearl for Best Narrative Film – $200,000
Director: Steve Jacobs. Producers: Anna Maria Monticelli, Emile Sherman, Steve Jacobs

The Black Pearl for Best Documentary – $150,000
Director: Gonzalo Arijon. Producer: Marc Silvera

The Black Pearl Special Jury Prize – $125,000
Youssou N'Dour: I Bring What I Love
Director and Producer: Elisabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

The Black Pearl for Best Actress – $75,000
Fawzia: A Special Blend
Actress: Ilham Shaheen

The Black Pearl for Best Actor – $75,000
Wild Blood
Actor: Luca Zingaretti

The Black Pearl for Best Artistic Contribution – $75,000
Laila's Birthday
Screenwriter: Rashid Masharawi

The Black Pearl Audience Choice Award
Saving Luna
Co-Directors: Suzanne Chisholm & Michael Parfit. Producer: Suzanne Chisholm

The Black Pearl for Best Narrative – Short Film – $75.000
The View
Co-Directors: Hazim Bitar & Rifqi Assaf. Producer: Amman Filmmakers Cooperative

The Black Pearl for Best Documentary – Short Film – $75.000
Director: Yasmin Fedda. Producers: Jim Hickey & Robin Mitchell

The Black Pearl for Best Animation – Shot Film – $75.000
Director: Karla Casteneda. Producer: Luis Tellez

The Black Pearl for Best Narrative – Student Films – $25.000
Director: Burhan Qurbani. Producer: Fabian Gasmia

The Black Pearl for Best Emerging Filmmaker – Student Films – $25.000
Director: Serena Abi Aad. Producer: IESAV

See also


  1. ^ "Scarlet had left his role as creative director of the Tribeca Film Festival in early 2009, then served for a year as the director general of the Cinematheque Francaise, and then took over the Abu Dhabi fest. Before his seven years at Tribeca, he ran the San Francisco International Film Festival for 20 years."[3]


  1. ^ a b c Fahim, Joseph (26 May 2015). "What happened to the Abu Dhabi Film Festival?". Al-Monitor: Independent, trusted coverage of the Middle East. Retrieved 14 April 2023.
  2. ^ "From Rough Drafts to Award Winning Scripts - Imad Deiratany". Tempo. 27 February 2020. Retrieved 14 April 2023.
  3. ^ a b Levine, Sydney (9 August 2012). "Peter Scarlet Leaves and is now former director of Abu Dhabi Film Festival". Medium. Retrieved 14 April 2023.
  4. ^ AFAC and Abu Dhabi Film Festival Partner to Support Arab DocumentariesThrough the SANAD FilmLab Archived 2011-09-03 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b Vivarelli, Nick (7 May 2015). "Abu Dhabi Film Festival Scrapped After Eight Editions". Variety.
  6. ^ Arora, Vibhuti (7 May 2015). "Abu Dhabi Film Festival to be discontinued". BroadcastPro ME. Retrieved 14 April 2023.
  7. ^ "About SANAD". Abu Dhabi Film Festival. Archived from the original on 18 April 2015. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  8. ^ "Thurman, Brody to attend Abu Dhabi film fest - Entertainment - Events - Emirates24|7".
  9. ^ "Just Add Cash - Abu Dhabi's Instant Cinema", UK Guardian, 27 Oct 2009 [1], accessed 27 Oct 2009.
  10. ^ "'Secretariat' to open Abu Dhabi Film Festival". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  11. ^ "Cirkus Columbia". Archived from the original on 17 October 2010. Retrieved 3 October 2010.
  12. ^ "Back Door Channels: The Price of Peace". Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 3 October 2010.
  13. ^ "Back Door Channels". Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  14. ^ "The Oath". Archived from the original on 31 August 2011. Retrieved 3 October 2010.
  15. ^ "Reviews for Popular Audio-Visual Software - Theoathmovie". Reviews for Popular Audio-Visual Software - Theoathmovie. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  16. ^ A Falcon Will Not Breed a Dove at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  17. ^ Tusing, David (24 October 2011). "Mansour Al Daheri winner doesn't take it all". Entertainment – Gulf News. Retrieved 27 May 2022.
  18. ^ "MEIFF Announces Winners of 2009 Black Pearl Awards" [2][permanent dead link], retrieved 29 Oct 2009.
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Abu Dhabi Film Festival
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