Abu Dhabi conference secures speakers

Three-day event focuses on films, TV for global audience

Participant Media CEO Jim Berk, Fox International Productions president Sanford Panich and CBS Paramount Television Entertainment president Nancy Tellum are among the speakers scheduled to take part in the 2009 Circle Conference, which runs from Oct. 9-11 in Abu Dhabi.

Eissa Saif Al Mazrouei, director of special projects for Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, and David Shepheard, director of the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, announced the full line-up on Tuesday.

The conference, which focuses on making films and TV for a global audience, will also hear from National Geographic Films president Adam Leipzig, BBC Worldwide head of co-production funding Stephen McDonogh, New Regency Pictures chairman Hutch Parker, Stadium International chair/CEO Stewart Till, producers Barbara DeFina, Walter Parkes, Fernando Sulichin, and Sheikha Al-Zain Al-Sabah and directors Nawaf Al Janahi, Amin Matalqa and Malek Akkad.

The three-day event will devote more panels this year to the Middle East and the UAE and will have an increased focus on TV and digital content.

Additionally, there will be an Arabic-language session on "Women in Film" in the Middle East to recognize Middle Eastern women filmmakers and connect them with the international women's community within the film industry. Pyramedia CEO Nashwa Al Rusaini will moderate the panel.

The conference also will incorporate the Shasha Grant Award, the Abu Dhabi Film Commission's international screenwriting competition. Shasha Grant nominees will attend the conference and pitch their ideas to a panel of producers and filmmakers. The winning filmmaker will be announced during the conference closing ceremony and will receive a $100,000 development grant and a first-look deal with Imagenation Abu Dhabi.

The conference is held in conjunction with the Middle East International Film Festival, which takes place from Oct. 8-17. Conference panels will be streamed live on the Internet.