x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Screenwriters given shot at the bigtime

Six aspiring screenwriters will each be given a Dh100,000 grant to make short films that Abu Dhabi plans to showcase at leading international festivals.

Jac Mulder, at his office in Dubai Studio City, said he was 'delighted' to be awarded a grant.
Jac Mulder, at his office in Dubai Studio City, said he was 'delighted' to be awarded a grant.

ABU DHABI // Six aspiring screenwriters will each be given a Dh100,000 (US$27,000) grant today to make short films that the emirate plans to showcase at leading international festivals. The grants, awarded by the Abu Dhabi Film Commission (ADFC), were the result of Aflaam Qaseera, a competition launched in December. "I have been waiting for this moment for five years," said Jac Mulder, 35, from South Africa, who was one of the winners.

"To say I'm delighted would be a huge understatement." Mr Mulder, who lives in Dubai with his wife and their one-year-old daughter, started his own post-production and visual effects company last year after leaving his job as a technical director for a large film making company in 2005. He worked on four screenplays before writing A Genie called Gin and submitting it to the competition. It tells the story of an Arabic genie who is influenced by the laws of the universe, which are in turn dictated by lawyers, meaning all the wishes the genie grants are subject to conditions and clauses.

"It only took me about a day to write, but I have had some help from the commission since in polishing the script," he said. Another winner was Mohammed al Otaiba, a 35-year-old Emirati who won for his script The Three Sisters Orphanage. Screenwriting started out as a hobby for Mr al Otaiba when he took evening classes in the subject while living in New York. "I think this competition is great," he said. "Our film industry needs a boost like this because once the infrastructure is in place, then all levels of filmmakers will develop."

The commission launched Aflaam Qaseera to inspire writers and to build a showcase of 12- to 15-minute films that can be screened for global audiences at events including the Cannes International Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival. "Our aim is to have something to show the international community," said David Shepheard, the director of ADFC. aseaman@thenational.ae