Abu Dhabi: A lack of funding from both Hollywood and the Arab movie industry is among the reasons for the lack of big box office film adaptations of Arabic books, especially those that deal with sensitive topics such as the Palestinian conflict.

That issue, among other topics, came up during a discussion titled ‘From the text to the screen' held as part of the Professional Programme at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

"While there are many books about the experiences and situations that occur in the region, there never has been a lot of interest by big studios in the US to turn them into films because of their sensitive nature.

Also, while the Arabic film industry has created several strong film adaptations of Arabic books, to do a film that can be shown commercially around the world needs a big budget, which is rarely available," Annemarie Jacir, a Palestinian author, poet and filmmaker whose works have made it to official selections at the Cannes Film Festival, said.

However, Jacir along with her fellow panellist Daniela Tully, vice-president of Development at Imagenation and in charge of creative affairs for regional Emirati film productions and hostess of the discussion, Anna Soler-Pont, founder of Pontas Agency, a literary, film and TV agency based in Barcelona, urged writers not to give up on their works making it to the big screen.

Realistic chances

"One in every four films began as a book … however, the process of adapting a book into a movie is a brutal one, with many changes being incorporated into various scenes or even dialogues. The director also makes additional changes on set depending on how the film unfolds," Soler-Pont said.