Ayesha Chagla manages the Dubai Film Market (DFM) which is the business counterpart of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF). Launched in 2007, the DFM comprises several initiatives which aim to develop, support and promote Arab filmmakers. These include a highly successful co-production market, the Dubai Film Connection; Enjaaz a production and post-production fund; Cinetech a digital sales and acquisitions platform, the Dubai Distribution Programme and the Forum. The DFM is now considered the leading industry platform in the region and the gateway to one of the fastest growing film and TV markets in the world.
Prior to joining the festival, Ayesha worked in film production and development as well as in broadcast journalism. She holds a BA in psychology and sociology from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. The Dubai Film Market runs concurrently with DIFF from the 6-13th of December 2017.
Shahin Yazdani is an Iranian-born independent filmmaker/ producer and an educator. He has written a number of feature length screenplays including 'The Station' (Istgah), and 'Malek Khatoon', both of which were turned into highly celebrated feature films of the Iranian Cinema. Outside Iran he received funding from ‘Hamburger Filmbüro’ in Germany and wrote two feature length screenplays, and also co-authored/directed a documentary.
In New Zealand, among other works, Shahin produced and directed the Bekettian ‘Krapp’s First Video’. The projects he has made outside Iran have been showcased at film festivals, art galleries, and media related conferences, as well as in street performances internationally. In UAE Yazdani has mentored and produced numerous prize winning student film projects that have received accolade in film festivals and competitions both locally and internationally. As a jury member he has contributed to Sharjah International Children Film Festival, 48 Hours Film Project (Dubai), Emirates Skills National Competition, and QS- Maple Creative Award.
Yazan is a film industry professional with over 10 years of experience in the field within the Middle East. Having obtained a Master’s Degree in Cinematic Arts, he has excelled throughout his career in various roles within the film industry, specifically within screenwriting. Yazan has written two feature films, and contributed to the development of scripts for several other successful regional short films, most notably through mentoring students of the Arab Film Studio as well as the Sharjah Arts Foundation. He has also served as script consultant for various short films as well as the popular Arab comedy series “Bath Bayakha”.
Yazan also brings with him a breadth of film knowledge, having created Jordan’s first art house theatre as well as worked in various capacities on both local and international short and feature films. He is currently the Head of the Film Department at SAE Institute in Dubai.
Senior reporter at “Emirates Today” Newspaper and has been for 5 years responsible of the Cinema pages. Ola is a film critic in Al Hayat newspaper. She serves as a jury member of several film festivals, such as Malmo Arab Film Festival Development Funding in Sweden and Days of Cinema 2016 in Palestine.
She has moderated sessions in ‘Critics without Borders’ in Sweden and several panel discussions at the Cairo Film Festival and Carthage Film Festival. She has just been nominated as a Jury Member to vote for the best Arabic film, director, writer, actress and actor. The awards will be distributed during the Cannes Film Festival in May 2017.
Rachel Aoun is a Beirut based cinematographer working in Lebanon and the Middle East. Following a Diploma in audiovisual from IESAV, Beirut, she specialized in cinematography at the INSAS, Belgium. She lensed three feature films, The Last Friday by Yahya al Abdallah which was awarded Special Jury Mention at Diff 2012 and Mahbas by Sophie Boutros, the film took part in the Arabian Nights at Diff 2016 edition. She also did principal photography of the challenging TV show Coke Studio Arabia season one. Her commercial work includes an extensive list of clients such as Coca-Cola, Nestle, Unicef, McDonald’s, Burger King, Etisalat, Mobily....