Anew strategic alliance has been created in the Middle East between Dubai'sFront Row Entertainment, Lebanon's Shooting Stars and the Kuwait NationalCinema Company (KNCC).

Thethree outfits will partner to jointly finance and acquire independent film. Ina statement, the companies said they were "committed to working proactivelywith the ministry of information in Kuwait to achieve a more liberal censorshippolicy and to combat piracy."

FrontRow Entertainment was created in Dubai in 2003 by Gianluca Chacra and hasbecome a major force for independent film in the region. The company has made aname for itself by working with such cutting edge films as Michael Moore's Fahrenheit9/11, which was the firstdocumentary to ever receive a theatrical release in the Middle East, WalterSalles' The Motorcycle Diaries andupcoming release Match Point fromWoody Allen.

ShootingStars was created in 1987 and has been releasing films from New Line Cinemathroughout the Middle East for the past seven years including The Lord OfThe Rings trilogy, the Rush Hour films and recent hit Wedding Crashers.

GianlucaChacra said: "We are very proud of our association with the Kuwait NationalCinema Company and their belief in our vision. The agreement represents a bigstep forward for the regional film industry as a whole and will enable thecreation of healthy competition."

TheKNCC's Hisham F. Alghanim said: "Part of being entertainment leaders in Kuwaitis to constantly reassure our customers of the variety and quality of filmsthey are receiving. This exciting new venture with Front Row and Shooting Starsis one of our stepping-stones towards regional and international expansion.Kuwait will be anticipating a growth in the film industry."

TonyChacra, distribution director of Shooting Stars added,"Today, Kuwait hascome a long way, challenging the once flourishing market of Lebanon for thenumber two position in the Middle East after the United Arab Emirates, and withthe management takeover by Tamdeen Holdings in April 2004, the agreement hassignificant weight."

The KNCC was incorporated in1954 and is Kuwait's market leader in cinematic exhibition. Tamdeen Holdings, whichnow owns the KNCC, has other interests including banking, real estate, printingand investment is currently working on such projects as The Mall Of Kuwait andthe 360 Mall.