Magazine article Screen International

Marie-Pierre Macia

Magazine article Screen International

Marie-Pierre Macia

Article excerpt

The head of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival's Sanad fund talks about how the new initiative is supporting Arab filmmakers from across the region.

Launched earlier this year, Sanad is a development and post-production fund which aims to strengthen filmmaking and build stronger networks within the Arabic-speaking region.

The fund offers development grants of up to $20,000 per project and post-production grants of up to $60,000. Projects to win post-production support in the first round of funding this include Faouzi Bensaidi's Death For Sale, Leila Kilani's On The Plank and Oday Rasheed's Qarantina, which had its premiere at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival last week.

Development projects include Train Station from Iraqi filmmaker Mohamed Al-Daradji, whose Son Of Babylon was selected as Iraq's entry for the foreign-language Oscar this year.

Algeria-born Macia, who was appointed head of the fund in May, has worked as a producer, programmer and festival director. She previously headed Cannes Directors' Fortnight and since 2006 has served as artistic director of the Crossroads forum at Greece's Thessaloniki film festival.

As it was the first year of Sanad, was it difficult finding enough good projects?

We thought it would be difficult but it wasn't in the end. We launched the programme in Cannes and ended up with about 150 submissions - 50 for post and 100 for development. There were so many good projects that we decided to go a little further than we originally intended and gave ten grants for post-production and 17 for development. Next year we'll have two funding rounds in February and six months later

Where did the submissions mostly come from?

We had a lot from the Maghreb because we opened the application so that you can submit in English, French or Arabic. Also a lot from Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Palestine and a few from the Emirates, Jordan, Iraq and Kuwait. When it came to the selection, we tried to find a balance between new and established filmmakers and also between men and women.

What kind of themes or subject matter did you see in the submissions?

There were a lot of projects examining identity - what it means to be an Arab. This was mostly for filmmakers who live between two cultures like a Moroccan or Algerian living in France. …

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