MEIFF acknowledges local talent


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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- One of the highlights of the inaugural Middle East International Film Festival was the Film Financing Committee, a networking event created to bring industry experts and decision makers together with emerging filmmakers in the region. One of the FFC programs was the InCircle Film Lab, designed to encourage and promote local talent. "We have raised more than $300,000 for the InCircle Film Lab," said FFC Conference director Adrienne Briggs, speaking of the United Arab Emirate Screenwriters Lab, which held a charity dinner last week.

"The UAE Screenwriters Lab will teach Emirati filmmakers writing and directing skills and will bring back many of these people as mentors," Briggs told The Hollywood Reporter. At a press conference during MEIFF, two Emirati filmmakers were awarded AED10,000 ($2,723). Fadhel Al Muhairi and Hani Shaibani both received the grant in recognition of their filmmaking talents.

"We are ready to embrace the emerging film industry here," said Emirates Film Competition director Abdalla Bastaki, as it was announced that the EFC, a local film competition that has been held in Abu Dhabi for the past six years, would be absorbed into MEIFF next year. "To be able to showcase our films on such a large platform as MEIFF is an amazing opportunity. We also hope that with this generous pool of funds we can reach out to promising Emirati filmmakers and assist them in making films at international standards."

The award money was pooled from private donations and Abu Dhabi-based Sorouh Real Estate, as well as the Emirates Foundation, a philanthropic organization under the patronage of Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Presidential Affairs, who serves as EFC Chairman. It will be used for the purchasing of filmmaking equipment to aid UAE filmmakers. The Abu Dhabi Media Company contributed $100,000 as did Sorouh, a MEIFF sponsor. The Emirates Foundation announced that it would match the amount raised at the charity dinner.