A consortium of around 20 distributors from across the Middle East has launched a new regional network, provisionally called MEDIS.

The initiative - spearheaded by the European Union’s Euromed Audiovisual Programme - takes inspiration from lobbying and networking bodies Europa Cinemas and Europa Distribution. 

“There is a need for a strong lobbying body to convince international and national organisations to support the distribution sector in the region,” said Euromed chief Valerio Caruso who is overseeing the creation of MEDIS. “A regional organisation will be much more powerful than a single, isolated distributor.”

“The first aim is to activate local and international financial support for the distribution sector, similar to that in Europe. The second step is to mobilise funds for the distribution and circulation of movies. The aim is to favour circulation of Arab films within the region and elsewhere. All kind of films will be eligible, but a special focus will be in art-house films,” he added.

The new network pulls together many key distributors of independent cinema across the Middle East and North Africa. 

Founding members include Beirut-based MC Distribution, Algeria’s Cirta Films, Egypt’s Misr International Films, Dubai’s Front Row Filmed Entertainment, the distribution arm of pan-Arab conglomerate Rotana Studios, the Sabbah Brothers’ Cedars Art Production and the Tunis-based Le Colisée cinema, one of the few remaining theatres in Tunisia.

Dubai Film Market’s Pascal Diot is also an associate member alongside Adeline Monzier of Europa Distribution and Caruso.

The new network will hold its first general assembly within the framework of the Dubai Film Market today (Dec 10). The attendees are expected to vote Tunisia Mohamed Layad, owner of Tunisia’s few remaining cinemas, as president and God’s Horses director Nabil Ayouch as honorary president.

The launch follows two previous meetings in Jordan in July and Venice in September.