Abu Dhabi film commissioner touts initiatives

David Shepheard touts mentoring, grant programs

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CANNES -- "Our goal is to develop filmmaking in Abu Dhabi in an organic way," David Shepheard, the new film commissioner of Abu Dhabi, said Thursday as he outlined several initiatives that the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, which launched in January, is overseeing.

To encourage young filmmakers, ADFC has established the Sasha Grant, a script development award that includes a development grant of $100,000 and a first-look deal with Imagenation, the subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media Co. The six finalists also will attend the annual Circle Conference, which draws filmmakers and business leaders from around the world.

Additionally, ADFC promotes mentoring through a series of masterclasses -- Mira Nair and Glenn Close have been recent participants -- and encourages local film production through the Emirates Film Competition.

ADFC has also formed a new partnership with Nair's Maisha Film Lab and will sponsor eight participants from Abu Dhabi in the 23-day program.