META Cinema Forum Discusses The Region’s Project Updates and COVID-19 Recovery Strategy

Including META Cinema Forum Awards, Screenings and More

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International Media Review

October 29, 2020

Dubai, UAE.

The third edition of META Cinema Forum kicked off on 27-10-2020 and is supported by the cinema giants in the region. Throughout the two days the conference will discuss all the latest projects and developments in the industry and the effect that COVID-19 has had on the cinema industry, projections, plans and the vision for recovery.

Taking place on 27 -28 October at VOX Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates, the event will gather 28 of the industry’s leaders in cinema production, distribution, construction, and technology. For the first time ever, the event is taking place in a hybrid format, welcoming attendees to attend physically or virtually via video conferencing technology. The speakers and the panelists choose whether to participate in the physical form hosted at the VOX Cinemas, or on a digital platform, making the event accessible to all and a global first live hybrid event to be shown in a cinema.

Focusing on the current challenges the industry is facing, the content and format has been adjusted accordingly to cater to the needs of the industry and commenced with the welcome remarks from Leila Masinaei, Managing Partner of Great Minds Event Management, organisers and Head of the META Cinema Forum team followed by the Forum’s Strategic Partner, VOX Cinemas, Cameron Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer, Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas and Majid Al Futtaim Leisure & Entertainment.

At the welcome remarks, Leila Masinaei, Managing Partner of Great Minds Event Management said: “We are thrilled to host the world’s first hybrid conference shown live on digital platform and at a cinema, with speakers participating in person or virtually, all blended together for a seamless hybrid experience like no other. We continue to commit to our promise to deliver the richest up-to-date cinema industry content for the Middle East and African markets, working with some of the most influential cinema experts in the world.”

Masinaei continues, “As always the Forum includes features such as slate content presentations, special screenings, an awards ceremony, a post-event reception as well as product showcases, but in the new hybrid format blending the virtual and physical together for a first time ever experience. We are excited to welcome many new delegates to this year’s edition, whom had not attended the pervious editions and is made possible thanks to having the option to attend virtually, this is a blessing of the new era I think we sometimes forget to mention.”

At the opening keynote from Event Strategic Partner: Cameron Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer, Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas and Majid Al Futtaim Leisure & Entertainment, said ”The future of film depends on enhanced collaboration and, VOX Cinemas is proud to once again partner with the META Cinema Forum, which provides an important platform for key stakeholders and leading industry players to engage in open dialogue, share knowledge, challenges and ideas so that we can jointly as an industry navigate the unchartered waters of COVID-19 together and ensure the longevity of the cinema industry.”

He continued, “Cinema is one of the oldest cultural institutions, which has weathered numerous societal storms, wars and prospered through over a century of challenges. At VOX Cinemas, we remain fundamentally confident about the future and resilience of the industry and firmly believe that, if we continue to evolve in line with guest feedback and emerging trends, cinema will find a way, as it has throughout its history, to not just survive but thrive.”

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Followed by insightful speech about cinema statistics and analysis during and post-pandemic era by Pablo Carrera, Principal Analyst- Cinema, Omdia. The data shared was exclusively research for META Cinema Forum and presented for the first time to a global audience.

Next on the agenda was a keynote panel discussion titled: Effect of COVID-19 on the cinema industry, projections, plans and vision for recovery and beyond where John Iozzi, CEO and Managing Director, AMC Cinemas – KSA, Maria Gedeon, Marketing Director, Majid Al Futtaim Leisure, Entertainment and Cinemas, Phil Clapp, Chief Executive, UK Cinema Association and John Donnelly, Business Development Director, Dolby Laboratories discussed critical topics such as the effects the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the cinema industry across the globe and in the META region, future of the cinema industry, market forecasts, operating cinemas within the “new normal”, profitability of cinemas at reduced capacity and most importantly, the road to recovery.

The Panel Discussion was followed up by a technical presentation from Dolby.( See The Video)

Dolby Presentation

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The second panel of the day, addressed the most critical subject in the theatrical industry, content. As the global news outlets have reported, cinemas are shutting down around the world due to lack of content and continued delays in blockbuster releases from the studios. The META region has a unique advantage by having access to a diverse range of content to cater to their population rich in diversity, and if nurtured, would not only survive the pandemic, but lead the way in the global cinema recovery by pioneering diversified content sources for the cinemas.
Experts offered their perspective on the subject from their unique positions in academia, production, distribution, event cinema, and cinema exhibition, the panel discussion was joined by Toni El Massih, Chief Content Officer, Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas, Joel Haikali, Director/Producer at Joe Vision Production, Chairperson of Namibia Film Commission Board, Co-founder of the Creative Industry Guide Africa, Rony Mitri, Independent Distribution Advisor, Melissa Cogavin, Consultant, Melissa Cogavin Ltd, Dr. Fazal Malik, Dean Humanities, Arts and Applied Sciences, Amity University Dubai, Grainne Peat, Managing Director, Event Cinema Association and Serge Zabbal, Business Director, Empire Entertainment.

Managing Director, Event Cinema Association Presentation

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The final panel discussion of the day was dedicated to the latest in cinema technology and unique products that are being developed with the cinema recovery around the world.
Showreels of upcoming features from various studios were shown throughout the day, and day one was wrapped up by a special film screening of a film that was shot in Dubai, Twisted Blues and this is the first time the film has been played on the big screen.
Day two of the forum is jam-packed with live sessions hosted at VOX Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates, slate content presentations, an awards ceremony and post-event reception.

Leila Masenai Speach during META Cinema Forum Awards 28.Oct 2020

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forum has attracted the biggest cinema operators in the region to be its partners in success. VOX Cinemas is the forum’s strategic partner whilst Novo, AMC KSA, Cinepolis, Cinepax and FilmOne are the forum’s Cinema Partners. The list of production and distribution partners for the 2020 edition includes Empire Entertainment, Sony, SPRI, and FilmOne.

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