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What happened to the Abu Dhabi Film Festival?

The Abu Dhabi Film Festival has been unexpectedly canceled, begging questions about the reasons behind the decision and its impact on the film industry in the region.
Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, arrives during the opening of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival October 11, 2012. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT EDUCATION POLITICS) - RTR39114

I was first invited in 2010 to cover the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF). Under new management headed by former San Francisco International Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival artistic director Peter Scarlet, the fourth edition of the festival was widely regarded as a success thanks to a solid selection, a hike in ticket sales and attendance and positive press, signaling the birth of a major powerhouse in the budding Arab film industry.

The ADFF commenced in 2007 as the Middle East International Film Festival in an attempt to challenge the culture dominance of Dubai. The festival struggled for an identity, initially positioning itself as an international film showcase in a young city with no film industry. That focus, however, changed with the arrival of Scarlet two years later to position the festival as a prominent hub for nurturing and showcasing Arab film and a platform for presenting the best of world cinema to Arab audiences.

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