Today, the festival in Abu Dhabi (which takes place next month from the 14th to the 23rd) announced the recipients of the recently launched Sanad (support in Arabic) Film Fund with over $500,000 in grant money for development and post-production to twenty-eight feature-length narrative and documentary films. Established this past April, the fund has two categories of grants: development funds of up to US$20,000, and post-production funds of up to US$60,000, per project. The selection committee noted a marked trend towards artistic innovation and unconventional cinematic styles and approaches in the inaugural round of submissions.
Peter Scarlet, executive director of the ADFF, says, "I am not sure there has been a comparable trend towards artistic independence here since the late 60s. These filmmakers are breaking the mold and developing a new cinematic vocabulary that is unique to the Arab region. It is our mission to provide these inspired artistic experiments with the support they need."
This is the first film fund in the region tied to a festival so this means that these films will benefit from international exposure from festival screenings, as well as year-round publicity. There are two open calls for applications per year; the second round of grants will be announced in February 2011. The Abu Dhabi Film Festival (formerly the Middle East International Film Festival) was established in 2007 and is presented by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, its main goal that of nurturing the growth of the regional film industry.
The documentary project recipients for post-production grants are In My Mother's Arms by Atia and Mohamed Al-Daradji (Iraq / UK) and Mohammad Saved From the Waters by Safaa Fathy (Egypt/France).
The documentary project recipients for a development grant are Lebanese Rocket Science by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige (Lebanon/France), My Jinn by Dalia Al Kury (Jordan/Germany), In Search of Oil and Sand by Philippe Laurent Dib (Egypt), As If We Were Catching a Cobra by Hala Alabdalla (Syria/France), and Seduction by Omar Amiralay (the great Syrian director, pictured above).
For more information on the festival and the Sanad grant, visit the web site.