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Abu Dhabi Film Festival’s SANAD Fund for Arab Filmmakers Announces Application Deadlines for 2012

SANAD, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival's fund for Arab filmmakers, announced today the application deadlines for 2012. The current cycle of applications will close on January 26, 2012. The deadline for the following SANAD cycle will be June 26, 2012.

Now entering its third year, SANAD supports films at two key stages of the production process: development (with stipends of up to USD20,000 per project) and post-production (with stipends of up to USD60,000 per project). SANAD ("support" in Arabic) is committed to enabling both established filmmakers and newcomers to develop or complete their feature-length narrative or documentary projects, while the newly launched SANAD Emirati supports short-film projects.

In 2011, SANAD awarded development and post-production grants to 22 distinguished productions, ten of which were films by directors making their first features. Altogether, nine narrative and thirteen documentary films received SANAD grants. The previous year, 27 ambitious films - 20 narratives and seven documentaries - received SANAD funding. Eleven of these were debut features.

"The benefits of SANAD extend far beyond the filmmakers who receive funding," said Peter Scarlet, executive director of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. "These films provide audiences everywhere with the chance to explore the Arab world through high-quality cinema. Not surprisingly, these excellent narratives and documentaries are quickly making their mark on the international festival circuit."

Five SANAD post-production projects were shown at the 2011 Abu Dhabi Film Festival (October 13-22). Death for Sale (Morocco, Belgium, France, UAE) directed by Faouzi Bensaïdi and In My Mother's Arms (Iraq, United Kingdom, UAE) directed by Atia and Mohamed Jabarah Al-Daradji both had their world premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival in September just prior to their Abu Dhabi screenings. Leila Kilani's On the Edge (Morocco, France, UAE) premiered in May at the 2011 Directors' Fortnight in Cannes, screened at Italy's Taormina Film Festival in June where it won two major awards. After its Abu Dhabi appearance in October, it was screened at the 52nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival in Greece, where the film's actresses were awarded a Jury Special Mention for their impressive performances.

El Gusto (Algeria, Ireland, France, UAE) directed by Safinez Bousbia won ADFF's inaugural FIPRESCI prize, and Bousbia took home the award for Best Director from the Arab World in the Festival's documentary competition. Tahrir 2011: The Good, the Bad and the Politician (Egypt, UAE) directed by Tamer Ezzat, Ayten Amin and Amr Salama garnered attention at the major festivals in Venice and Toronto this year. ADFF's documentary competition jury awarded this riveting film the prize for Best Producer from the Arab World.

The international film community continues to embrace SANAD as a vital resource for Arab filmmaking, while the region's filmmakers have tasked the fund's selection committee with the gratifying challenge of carefully considering a remarkably large number of high-quality prospective projects. Overall, 320 film projects from 13 countries were submitted to SANAD in the course of its two application cycles in 2011. In 2010, 127 films from 12 countries were submitted to the fund for consideration.

SANAD is an integral part of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival's commitment to independent, auteur and original filmmaking in the Arab world. Beyond its role as a film fund, SANAD is dedicated to providing year-round support and advice to its grant recipients. An important part of each edition of ADFF, SANADLab and its mentors work intensively with SANAD grantees in one-on-one sessions, guiding the filmmakers through the process of refining scripts, the conceptual aspects of their projects and the practicalities of getting their films ready for production.

"Part of what makes SANAD so special is its commitment to serving as a comprehensive resource for our talented filmmakers," said Marie-Pierre Macia , SANAD Fund Director. "This means we're eager to do more than just channel money to a project. Through SANADLab, we can provide practical insight on how a filmmaker can realize his or her artistic vision."

SANAD-funded films expected to be released in 2012 include:

- When I Saw You (Palestine, Jordan, UAE), directed by Annemarie Jacir
- As If We Were Catching a Cobra (Syria, France, UAE), directed by Hala Alabdalla
- In the Last Days of the City (Egypt, UK, UAE), directed by Tamer El Said
- Mohammad Saved From the Waters (Egypt, France, Qatar, UAE), directed by Safaa Fathy
- My Brother (Morocco, France, Qatar, UAE), directed by Kamal El Mahouti
- Yasmina and Mohammed (Algeria, Lebanon, France), directed by Regine Abadia
- Ibn Battuta (Algeria, Lebanon, France), directed by Tariq Teguia
- Playground Stories (Morocco, France), directed by Brahim Fritah
- Lebanese Rocket Society (Lebanon, France), directed by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige

SANAD Emarati is the new short-film initiative of SANAD and the Emirates Film Competition (EFC) was launched on the 10th anniversary of the EFC, which now operates under the auspices of ADFF. This short film fund will provide serious regional filmmaking talents from the GCC region with meaningful support for the development and completion of their short narrative films. SANAD Emarati will support up to five projects annually, and the grant for each project will be determined according to its needs. The fund's administrators seek to help filmmakers involved in selected projects to travel to international film festivals and markets to present their work, connect with professionals and gain exposure to broader audiences. Selected filmmakers will also receive assistance in publicizing their work, finding opportunities for additional funding and submitting their projects to other festivals.

"We are immensely proud of the feature-length films that SANAD has supported," said Eissa Saif Rashid Al Mazrouei, Director of Special Projects at the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage. "Building on this record of success, we are so pleased to launch SANAD Emarati and to extend the fund's resources to the realm of short filmmaking."

In 2010, the Festival supported the post-production of - and also screened - four finished SANAD-funded feature films: Here Comes the Rain, Qarantina, Sun Dress and OK, Enough, Goodbye. After its world premiere in Abu Dhabi, Here Comes the Rain (Lebanon, UAE), directed by Bahij Hojeij, won the Festival's award for Best Narrative Film from the Arab World. It went on to garner considerable acclaim and additional awards at several Arab and European festivals. OK, Enough, Goodbye (Lebanon, UAE), by the directing team of Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia, won the Festival's award for Best New Director from the Arab World and has screened successfully at several major European Film Festivals. Qarantina (Iraq, Germany, UAE), directed by Oday Rasheed, premiered in Abu Dhabi in the Festival's New Horizons Competition and screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam at the beginning of this year. Sun Dress (UAE, Syria) premiered at the Festival and was the debut feature narrative film by celebrated Emirati film director Saeed Salmeen Al Murry, whose previous short film Bint Mariam received critical acclaim across the Arab world.

In 2009, prior to the launch of SANAD, the Festival supported the post-production of three feature films: Son of Babylon, We Were Communists and Port of Memory. After its world premiere in Abu Dhabi, Mohamed Jabarah Al-Daradji's Son of Babylon won numerous awards at festivals around the world and was chosen as Iraq's official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. Following the film's international success, Al-Daradji earned Variety's Middle East Filmmaker of the Year Award at ADFF in October. We Were Communists (Lebanon, France, UAE), directed by Maher Abu Samra, won the Festival's award for Best Documentary by an Arab Director or Related to Arab Culture in 2010. In November 2010, Kamal Aljafari's Port of Memory (Palestine, Germany, France, UAE) and We Were Communists screened at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York as part of Mapping Subjectivity: Experimentation in Arab Cinema from the 1960s to Now, a special program presented as a collaboration between ADFF, MoMA and ArteEast.

Selected projects to travel to international film festivals and markets to present their work, connect with professionals and gain exposure to broader audiences. Selected filmmakers will also receive assistance in publicizing their work, finding opportunities for additional funding and submitting their projects to other festivals.

"We are immensely proud of the feature-length films that SANAD has supported," said Eissa Saif Rashid Al Mazrouei, Director of Special Projects at the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage. "Building on this record of success, we are so pleased to launch SANAD Emarati and to extend the fund's resources to the realm of short filmmaking."

In 2010, the Festival supported the post-production of - and also screened - four finished SANAD-funded feature films: Here Comes the Rain, Qarantina, Sun Dress and OK, Enough, Goodbye. After its world premiere in Abu Dhabi, Here Comes the Rain (Lebanon, UAE), directed by Bahij Hojeij, won the Festival's award for Best Narrative Film from the Arab World. It went on to garner considerable acclaim and additional awards at several Arab and European festivals. OK, Enough, Goodbye (Lebanon, UAE), by the directing team of Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia, won the Festival's award for Best New Director from the Arab World and has screened successfully at several major European Film Festivals. Qarantina (Iraq, Germany, UAE), directed by Oday Rasheed, premiered in Abu Dhabi in the Festival's New Horizons Competition and screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam at the beginning of this year. Sun Dress (UAE, Syria) premiered at the Festival and was the debut feature narrative film by celebrated Emirati film director Saeed Salmeen Al Murry, whose previous short film Bint Mariam received critical acclaim across the Arab world.

In 2009, prior to the launch of SANAD, the Festival supported the post-production of three feature films: Son of Babylon, We Were Communists and Port of Memory. After its world premiere in Abu Dhabi, Mohamed Jabarah Al-Daradji's Son of Babylon won numerous awards at festivals around the world and was chosen as Iraq's official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. Following the film's international success, Al-Daradji earned Variety's Middle East Filmmaker of the Year Award at ADFF in October. We Were Communists (Lebanon, France, UAE), directed by Maher Abu Samra, won the Festival's award for Best Documentary by an Arab Director or Related to Arab Culture in 2010. In November 2010, Kamal Aljafari's Port of Memory (Palestine, Germany, France, UAE) and We Were Communists screened at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York as part of Mapping Subjectivity: Experimentation in Arab Cinema from the 1960s to Now, a special program presented as a collaboration between ADFF, MoMA and ArteEast.

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