Shasha Grant goes to Saudi director

Haifaa Al Mansour to receive production-funding award

Saudi director Haifaa Al Mansour was awarded the $100,000 Shasha Grant for her film "Wajda" by the Abu Dhabi Film Commission at the third annual Circle Conference, which concluded in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

The grant recognizes rising talent in film and television in the Middle East.

Mansour was chosen from five finalists, who came to the conference to pitch their projects to a jury of industry leaders in hopes of securing the production-funding prize.

"Wajada" is a coming-of-age story of an 11-year-old Saudi girl.

The runner-up was Annemarie Jacir, who received a trip to the Melbourne International Film Festival for her project "When I Saw You" as part of a partnership between the ADFC and the MIFF 37 Degrees South Market.

The final day of the conference also included the first Emirates Skills Training Council Conference, bringing together schools, production companies and broadcasters from throughout the region to network with students.

The conference included keynotes from New Regency Pictures chairman Hutch Parker, Participant Media CEO Jim Berk and CBS Paramount Network Entertainment Group president Nancy Tellem.