NAT Jamal Al Sharif-1574249576780
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Dubai: ON.DXB, a new three-day festival of film, game, video and music, is a timely revamp on the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), to reflect the changing market, an official said.

In 2018 DIFF announced it would be taking place every two years instead of annually, returning in 2019 with ‘a new approach’.

With a month left in the year, DIFF hasn’t resurfaced, but On.Dxb, featuring 100 speakers and 200 sessions, has.

The likes of film director Spike Lee, Youtube sensation Liza Koshy, rapper Kano and gamer Mjrm, will be headlining the event at Dubai Studio City from November 21-23.

“DIFF had its own value and position and was successful for 14 years,” Jamal Al Sharif, CEO of the Dubai Film and TV Commission told Gulf News on Wednesday.

”I’m not saying it’s replacing it at this time, it’s complementing it, however to revamp we had to look at where this market is going.

“Many festivals around the world either reduced, shrunk or closed down for various reasons. We didn’t want to do that but what we wanted to do was revamp it because it was time to revamp. Almost 90 per cent of the UAE’s population is under the age of 35 and we have to cater to young talent.

“Film will be there. We have not removed anything related to film, although we have given the chance to Emirati cinema. This is our first On.Dxb, we are looking to grow next year and hopefully the film sector will grow forward focusing more on Arab, regional and Emirati filmmakers. That focus should make us go back again to be the film festival, in interaction and coordination with other sectors, like gaming, online content and music.

“Looking at how the media industry has evolved and how technology has played a more pivotal role, we decided to do something to reflect that,” Al Sharif added.

“Five years ago there was a big demand for terrestrial TV but now streaming sites like Netflix and social media are playing a big role in changing the landscape, where you can watch content anywhere at any time.”

Al Sharif said this was adversely affecting the film industry.

“Globally film has been slow and even regionally. This has happened because of the shift in consumer behaviour, and now advertising is all online. Movies are now the secondary and not primary [source of entertainment]. There have also been budget cuts.”

During the festival young talents will be able to pitch their ideas for content creation.

“We’re really converting the attitude from a festival to making it a platform that brings content creators, investors and artists together in one place with technology makers.

“My dream is to see more Emiratis involved because no nation can grow its industry unless its grown inhouse. We are big consumers but its time to export our content. The tools are there, companies are there, matchmaking is what we are missing and that’s what we are trying to do. We have studios, media production firms and the knowledge. We have stories to tell and good content. That’s what Dubai is all about and this is the right time. Hopefully we can reach the maximum amount of people to attend.”