x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Funding boost to film industry in UAE

The national film industry got funding for many films and documentaries and a three-day Circle Conference will be organised that will feature panel discussions and workshops.

DUBAI // The national film industry got a boost yesterday with funding for films and documentaries and specifics about movie professionals who will visit next month, imparting their wisdom and looking for business opportunities. In the capital, 28 recipients of the $500,000 (Dh1.8 million) film fund called Sanad were notified.

The winners of the shared prize from the Abu Dhabi Film Festival will receive grants of either $20,000 to develop new filmmakers or $60,000 to provide post-production help for the more established as the film festival gets underway in October. Marie-Pierre Macia, the head of Sanad, said her team had noticed more artistic innovation and departures from conventional style, language and approach in this year's submissions. The films will surprise viewers, she said.

"The courage of the directors, screenwriters, editors and actors to step away from formulas is one of the most reassuring signs of the vitality and potential of Arab filmmaking," she said. In Dubai, the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) announced a collaboration with Screen Institute Beirut, a Lebanese nonprofit association that aims to strengthen filmmaking capacity in the Arab region to help documentary makers.

For the first time this year the Screen Institute Beirut will award $15,000 to a documentary film under development by the Dubai festival. The partnership follows DIFF's recent tie-up with Film Clinic Egypt, which will award a $10,000 grant to a first-time filmmaker selected by the Dubai festival committee. The Circle Conference, in conjunction with the Abu Dhabi Film Festival from October 13 to 15, also announced its programme yesterday. The three-day event will feature panel discussions, workshops and presentations on filmmaking.

Among the speakers are Tom Toumazis, the chief commercial officer of Endemol, a television production and distribution company known for its reality TV successes such as Big Brother, and Tarak Ben Ammar, the founder of the investment and distribution company Quinta Communications, which recently partnered with Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the former bosses of Miramax Films, in their film production company.

Also present will be Dr Hala Saran, the president of Rotana Studios, and Sheikha Al-Zain Al-Sabah, a Kuwaiti filmmaker who co-produced Amreeka, the Palestinian movie that screened at the Cannes International Film Festival. The conference is vital for the future of the UAE's industry, said David Shepheard, the director of the Abu Dhabi Film Commission (ADFC) who oversees the event. "The growing scope of the Circle Conference, and the amazing range and diversity of this year's Shasha Grant submissions, have been hugely rewarding for all of us at ADFC," said Mr Shepheard.