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Participant Media Expands with Middle East Partnership and TV Venture

Participant Media Expands with Middle East Partnership and TV Venture

American film and television production company Participant Media is partnering with the Doha Film Institute, a Middle Eastern cultural organization established to support the region’s film industry, to create a new $100 million fund to develop and finance feature films, Participant CEO Jim Berk and DFI CEO Abdulaziz Al-Khater announced Feb. 13 at the Berlin International Film Festival.

The companies will work collaboratively to develop, produce, and distribute a slate of 12–16 feature films over the next five years.

“We are delighted to partner with Participant Media, a company that aims to finance and produce films that are both commercially successful and socially relevant—a vision that is very much shared at DFI,” Al-Khater said in a statement. “We are confident that this collaboration will be a catalyst for greater cross-cultural appreciation as we embark on a diverse and exciting set of projects.”

As part of the deal, Participant Media will establish a Middle East office at DFI’s headquarters in Qatar, and will help DFI distribute its productions internationally. Participant and DFI are already working together to co-finance an animated feature film adaptation of Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet,” which is currently in production and scheduled for a 2014 theatrical release.

“This new relationship provides us with a partner whose goals of international expansion and desire to co-finance a diverse slate of films that entertain, enlighten, and engage with global audiences are in total alignment with our own long-term business strategies,” Berk said in a statement. “It also gives us the ability to extend the audience for our socially-relevant storytelling to the Middle East, and to mine new sources of compelling content for our digital and TV platforms.”

Participant Media’s films include “An Inconvenient Truth,” “The Help,” “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “Murderball,” “Food, Inc.,” and many more, as well as the 2012 releases “Lincoln,” “Promised Land,” “Middle of Nowhere,” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”

In addition to feature films, Participant and DFI are exploring joint ventures to create content for the companies’ online and TV channels. Participant also announced today that it has hired former FremantleMedia North America executive Holly Hines to be senior vice president of scripted programming for its unnamed new cable network “targeting the millennial generation,” which plans to launch this summer.

And the Doha partnership is just Participant’s latest foray into international initiatives. The company announced Feb. 7 that it had reached an agreement with three Latin American production companies to develop and co-finance 10–12 Spanish-language films over the next five years.

“Participant PanAmerica enables us to increase our film output and expand our reach into the dynamic and fast growing Spanish-speaking market,” Berk said when the deal was announced. “We now have access to the region’s talent pool of fresh and highly creative filmmakers who are looking to explore important contemporary issues in exciting ways.”

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