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Peter Scarlet Heads To Middle East (UPDATED)

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire March 23, 2009 at 3:15AM

Variety is reporting that Abu Dhabi execs have tapped former Tribeca artistic director Peter Scarlet executive director at the emirate's Middle East International Film Festival.
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Variety is reporting that Abu Dhabi execs have tapped former Tribeca artistic director Peter Scarlet executive director at the emirate's Middle East International Film Festival.

"The two sides have been in discussions ever since Scarlet ankled his Tribeca fest post Feb. 27," Ali Jaafar reports. "Scarlet takes over from former Slamdance founder Jon Fitzgerald, who helped launch the Abu Dhabi fest in 2007. The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, which backs the fest, did not renew Fitzgerald's two-year contract."

Variety has since corrected the story, in which it erroneously referred to Scarlet's former position at Tribeca as "creative director," and that Scarlet was taking over for Fitzgerald. Scarlet is in actuality replacing exec director Nashwa al-Ruwaini, who will now take on an advisory role and join the fest's board.

"I think what's going on in the gulf region is enormously exciting," Scarlet told indieWIRE over the phone this afternoon after correcting the errors in the Variety story. "It's not by accident that film festivals have begun to establish roots there."

Scarlet went on to discuss how particularly excited he was about working with his new staff, and spending a lot of time in the Middle East. "I feel very at home there," he said.

This news comes as the latest development in a long line of inter-related events from the festival world:

In February, Geoff Gilmore left Sundance for a position as chief creative officer at Tribeca Enterprises (to be replaced at Sundance by John Cooper). A month or so later, Scarlet resigned and has yet to be replaced

This announcement also continues a growing connection between the Middle East and United States film festivals. Last November, the Tribeca Film Festival announced Tribeca Film Festival Doha. The film festival will take place November 10 - 14, 2009 and be presented at Doha’s celebrated new Museum of Islamic Art and in cinemas across Doha, Qatar’s capital city.

indieWIRE reported in February that Gilmore's new role as Chief Creative Officer of Tribeca Enterprises puts him at the creative helm of a number of Tribeca branded businesses, including Tribeca Film Festival Doha.

The Middle East International Film Festival is one of the richest in the world. Last year's edition handed out more than $1 million in prizes. The third edition runs October 8-17, 2009.