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10 June 2023

Six screenwriters shortlisted for Abu Dhabi award

Last year’s winner Haifaa Al Mansour (centre), with ADFF officials. (SUPPLIED)

By Staff

Six finalists for a $100,000 (Dh367,000) award from the Abu Dhabi Film Commission were named yesterday, organisers said in a media statement.

Nearly 150 feature-length entries were sent in for this year’s Sasha Grant, an annual screenwriting competition. The winner will be chosen by a panel of industry experts during the Circle Conference, which is being held in the capital from October 13 to 15, on the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

Forty per cent of the entries were in Arabic and nearly a quarter were from UAE-based writers, but no UAE writer made the shortlist.

The finalists are Rana Kazkaz for “Dama Scenes” (from Syria/US), Kasem Kharsa for “Shelter” (Egypt/US), Mohamed Abdulmajid for “Beit Soureen” (Palestine/UK), Gihan Faisa for “Burkan” (Egypt), Dina Hamdan for “The Kidnap” (Jordan/UK) and Rifqi Assaf for “The Curve” (Jordan).

The finalists will travel to the Circle conference to pitch their projects to a jury of industry leaders. Besides the money, the winning filmmaker will also receive held in finding production financing.

“The Shasha Grant is a key component of our ongoing commitment to the development of the film and television industry in Abu Dhabi, the nurturing of new talent and the promotion of Arab culture through film,” said Eissa Saif Al Mazrouei, Director of Special Projects at Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage.

“This year's Shasha competition is a clear indication that we can invite more regionally specific feature film stories and writers, and still maintain a strong number of entries,” said ADFC Director David Shepheard.  “The amazing range and diversity of this year’s submissions is enormously exciting for all of us at ADFC, and we look forward to welcoming their production teams to the Circle Conference to pitch their projects to a panel of producers and financiers.”

Last year’s Shasha Grant winner was Haifaa Al Mansour, whose film “Wajda”, is currently in development as a US-German co-production.

The Circle Conference brings together leading professionals from around the world to discuss the business and creative elements of film, television and digital media; new approaches to international financing and distribution and the emerging Arab media industry.  For the first time this year, ADFC will debut a business-to-business social media platform at the Circle Conference allowing registered guests to network and organise meetings online.