Arab Cinema Center hosts Berlinale Panels to discuss Arab Cinema Hot Spots

Arab Cinema Center hosts Berlinale Panels to discuss Arab Cinema Hot Spots
07 February 2024:

Arab Cinema Center (ACC) — a non-profit organization based in Berlin that is focused on creating networking opportunities between Arab filmmakers and their counterparts around the globe — is scheduled to hold two panels as part of the activities of the upcoming edition of the Berlin International Film Festival’s (Berlinale) European Film Market.

The first panel, entitled “Arab Box Office Bonanza”, to be moderated by Deadline’s Senior International Film Correspondent Melanie Goodfellow, will address the MENA region’s record-breaking box-office revenues which are now approaching an unprecedented $1 billion, powered by astonishing cinema attendance figures in both the U.A.E. and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, together with new milestones for independent Arab-language features in other countries such as Egypt. 

The panel will look at the surging success of local-language film titles, how well MENA holds up against other regions’ theatrical revenues right now, and what the post-pandemic future holds for the cinema exhibition business in the Arab World even in the face of strong local competition from social media and streaming services.

The second panel, entitled “International Tipping Point for Saudi Filmmaking”, to be moderated by Screen International’s International News Editor Michael Rosser, will explore how far the Saudi film industry has developed since its inception only twelve years ago. Saudi films are becoming a permanent yearly fixture across the global festival circuit, a testament to the country’s extraordinary efforts to bolster both its filmmaking and audience-watching infrastructure, with the establishment of prominent theater chains across the KSA and the creation of NEOM a pioneering media hub hosting the MENA region’s largest pur00pose-built facility. It serves as a premier shooting location for global content production, having hosted 35 productions within the last two years. As part of this discussion, the panel will explore how Saudi Arabia will fit into both the regional and global film industry ecosystem as an international production partner. 


Among the speakers confirmed for these panels so far are:

  • Wayne Borg, Managing Director of Media Industries, NEOM
  • Gianluca Chakra, CEO, Front Row Entertainment
  • Mario Haddad Jr., President of Distribution, Empire International
  • Alaa Karkouti, CEO, MAD Solutions
  • Mohannad Al-Bakri, Managing Director of the Jordanian Royal Film Commission (RFC)
  • Alaa Fadan, CEO & Chairman, Telfaz11 

Commenting on the panels and lauding the ACC's recurrent critical role in the platform, Dennis Ruh, Director of the European Film Market said:

“True to our motto It all starts here! I congratulate the organizers to bring the 10th anniversary edition of the Arab Cinema Center back to the place where it was held for the first time: Berlin! We appreciate the efforts of this initiative and see the great synergy effects that have arisen from this merger and the great visibility effects. The Arab Cinema Center continually captures the latest trends in developments in this multi-faceted region. I’ve seen much diversity in storytelling in films from MENA, presenting a nuanced picture of local cultures and societies, but also in terms of different film genres. Especially the increase in the number of women filmmakers gaining recognition for their work is a notable development.”

ACC Co-Founders Alaa Karkouti and Maher Diab expressed their excitement for the upcoming editions of the Berlinale and EFM, in particular how these recent success stories for Arab cinema demonstrate the enduring strength of the cinema experience at a time when the film industry at large has been lamenting the decline of theatrical audiences a of cinema will stressing the growing footprint of the Saudi film industry and the pan-Arab film industry at large on the global scene.

“In the face of an equally ever-changing global social, political, and economic landscape, it gives us joy to be able to celebrate these oases of success: independent Arab films are getting attention on the global stage and are also winning over audiences at home,” commented Karkouti and Diab. “We are delighted to share those achievements with the international film community in the hope that this fosters greater global collaboration with the fastest growing entertainment sector in the world right now.”

“We would also like to thank the Berlinale and the EFM for consistently giving the MENA region a platform to make its voice heard by hosting these panels,” they concluded.

In addition to the panels, the ACC will unveil a new edition of its Arab Cinema Magazine; it will crown its latest Arab Personality of the Year; and it will be announcing the latest critics to join the already extensive jury for its Arab Critics Awards for Arab Films. It will also soon release a list of the panelists that will be participating in the Box Office Bonanza and International Tipping Point for Saudi Filmmaking panels, so stay tuned.

About the ACC:

The Arab Cinema Center (ACC) is a non-profit organization based in Berlin and founded by MAD Solutions 10 years ago. The ACC provides networking opportunities with representatives of companies and institutions involved in co-production, international sales and distribution, film festivals, commercial exhibition and industry events. 

The organization’s activities include hosting film market stands, networking sessions, one-on-one meetings, welcome parties, panel discussions and meetings with international organizations and festivals. It also publishes the Arab Cinema Magazine, which it distributes at leading international film festivals and markets.

A newsletter subscription is now available on the ACC's website, allowing users to obtain digital copies of the Arab Cinema Magazine, as well as news on the ACC's activities, notifications of application dates for grants, festivals and offers from educational and training institutions, updates on Arab films participating at festivals, exclusive news on the Arab Cinema LAB, and highlights from the ACC's partners and their future projects.

Additionally, the ACC launched the Arab Cinema Directory in English on its website, the first time that users from both within and outside the Arab-speaking world have access to information on Arab cinema all in one place. As always, the aim is to facilitate the connection between Arab films and filmmakers and their potential partners, providing the international filmmaking community with an easy tool to identify Arab productions and the producing and storytelling talents behind them.