Dubai, UAE – Women in Film and TV (WIFT) took the spotlight today at the 6th Edition of META Cinema Forum, the largest and most influential cinema convention in emerging markets at the prestigious Grand Hyatt in Dubai.

The day started with female panelists in a round table discussion on the business side of the film industry titled ‘Beyond the Glitz’. Panelists include Nancy Paton, Founder, Desert Rose Films and President of WIFTGCC,
Charlotte Louise Sutcliffe, Entertainment Lawyer, Associate at CWB and Head of Events at WIFTGCC, Ozge Conduroglu, Acquisition & Distribution Lead, The Plot Pictures MENA
and Ashleigh Potts, Marketing Director, Studio Distribution, Majid Al Futtaim LLC.

The ‘My Story My Voice’ panel with rising Female Emirati Filmmakers featured Emirati filmmakers Zainab Shaheen, Maitha Al Awadi, Eman Al Sayed and Sarraa Al Shehhi as panelists sharing their experiences.

This was followed by the WIFT MENA AWARDS sponsored by Rotana that celebrated the achievements of Women in Cinema after which, Nayla Al Khaja, Emirati Film Director talked about her journey and unveiling her new feature film.

During her speech, Nayla Al Khaja expressed her gratefulness for the unwavering support she received on her journey as a pioneer filmmaker. “It's the encouragement and belief from those around me that have fueled my passion and determination to break barriers and tell stories that matter. Today's award is not just a recognition of my work; it is a testament to the strength of our collective vision for more diverse voices to shine in the world of film and television."

The afternoon saw Charlotte Jones, Senior Principal Analyst: Cinema & Movies at OMDIA do a presentation on MENA Cinema in the global theatrical landscape highlighting key trends and opportunities in 2023 and beyond. Tanya Easterman, Founder, Daiku UK also did a case study presentation on learning from proven pricing and promotional strategies to increase audience.

Over the years, META Cinema Forum has evolved into a pivotal gathering for cinema industry leaders, expanding its reach to encompass more regions, projects, and partnerships. It stands as the premier platform for the exchange of ideas, strategies, and innovations that are shaping the cinema sector in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the CIS region.

The Forum's program was extensive, featuring a tradeshow, conference sessions, product presentations, special screenings, premieres, workshops, masterclasses, a Black-tie awards ceremony, networking reception, meetings areas, and content and cinema construction breakout sessions.

The theme for the 2023 edition "Growing the region’s cinema share," reflected a commitment to foster growth and innovation in the industry. Topics covered included Regional Content Production and International Collaboration, Cinemas of the Future, and an in-depth look at emerging cinema trends and technologies with key cinema statistics and case studies on Rewarding Patrons and Effective Pricing Strategies.

Organized by GM Events, the META Cinema Forum was a two-day immersion in priceless knowledge, networking prospects, and a sneak peek into the future of cinema.


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Now in its 6th edition, the META Cinema Forum is the largest cinema convention, covering the emerging markets. The event has grown over the years to include more regions, more projects, more partners and has become the single most important regional gathering for the cinema sector. The 6th edition will bring in a diverse set of cinema stakeholders from across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and CIS region with studios and solution providers from across the globe. The convention will also host several post-event receptions and parties that will allow for fun-filled casual networking for all stakeholders.

Below are the recipients of the prestigious WIFT MENA Awards:

WIFTMENA Film & TV Business Owner of the Year Award

Nahalie Habib

WIFTMENA Excellence in Film and TV Communications Award

Ashliegh Potts

WIFTMENA Excellence in Film and TV Mentorship Award

Abir Alsayed

WIFTMENA Excellence Film and TV Leadership Award

Malgorzata Golda

WIFTMENA Excellence in Entertainment Law Award

Charlotte Sutcliffe

WIFTMENA Excellence in TV Presenting Award

Haya Yasmeen

WIFTMENA Excellence in Factual Reporting Award

Najwan Simri Diab

WIFTMENA Excellence in Production Designer

Pranali Diwadkar

WIFTMENA Excellence in Art Direction Award

Yulia Verigina

WIFTMENA Excellence in Costume Design Award

Shrouk Hodroj

WIFTMENA Excellence in MakeUp Award

Samantha Ayoub

WIFTMENA Excellence in Editing Award

Eugenia Vichikova

WIFTMENA Excellence in Special Effects Award

Diana Lombardic

WIFTMENA Excellence in Animation Award

Lama Marakshi

WIFTMENA Excellence in Sound Design Award

Rana Eid

WIFTMENA Excellence in Screenwriter Award

Sarra Alshehhi

WIFTMENA Excellence in Music Supervision

Yvette Ndobe

WIFTMENA Rising Star in Directing Award

Zeinab Shaheen

WIFTMENA Excellence in Producing Award

Nadia Eliewat

WIFTMENA Excellency in Cinema Honorary Award

Nayla Al Khaja