Gulf Script Market for Short Films launched

Entries for Gulf Script Market for Short Films welcomed from the GCC, Iraq and Yemen until March 15, 2012

Arab filmmaking received a major stimulus today with the launch of the new ‘Gulf Script Market for Short Films,’ an initiative that will finesse the scriptwriting skills of regional writers and filmmakers, partner them with directors and producers, and help turn the completed scripts into reality. The pioneering programme, a first for the Gulf region, was unveiled by the Dubai-based Gulf Film Festival, in advance of its fifth edition from April 10 to 16, 2012.
The integrated script market offers three days of hands-on script doctoring led by award-winning regional filmmakers, followed by pitch sessions to emerging and established directors, and industry networking geared towards securing partnership and production agreements. Scripts must either be completed or works in progress.

The combination of mentoring, collaboration and personalised matchmaking is a timely and much-needed boost for a thriving Gulf film industry. Paired with the Festival’s existing US$250,000 Enjaaz annual production fund for Gulf short films, the new initiative creates a holistic, end-to-end support programme for emerging and established scriptwriters, directors, and other film talent from the region.

Celebrated Egyptian director and scriptwriter Mohamed Khan; award-winning Lebanese director, scriptwriter and film entrepreneur Michel Kammoun and accomplished Bahraini author and scriptwriter Fareed Ramadan will serve as the script market mentors for the first edition.

Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Director of the Gulf Film Festival, said that the founding of a market for short film scripts is an innovation created in response to market needs. “There has never been an integrated market, which meant that several good scripts could not be converted to movies, as writers did not have the necessary industry linkages. Producers and directors, on the other hand, were complaining about the scarcity of excellent scripts.”
“The script is the bedrock of any film – and the stronger the foundation, the better the film. Our three-pronged approach, to work hands-on with scriptwriters, to make matches with working directors and producers, and to facilitate larger industry connections, is the right step at a time of high interest in and high productivity from our region. By combining the strengths of all parties, we will lift the quality of filmmaking from a region that has both a significant talent base and a lot to say.”
Submissions to the inaugural script market are open until March 15, 2012. Entry is free and open to filmmakers, scriptwriters and authors of GCC, Iraq or Yemen nationality or origin; all applications must have a scriptwriter attached. Scripts can be submitted in English or Arabic, with a maximum of two scripts per team/individual. More details, rules and regulations, and the application form, are at www.gulffilmfest.com.

Ten to 15 projects will be selected from the entries, with shortlisted teams invited to a three-day mentoring session with industry professionals during GFF 2012. The finessed scripts will then be pitched to directors and producers participating in the Festival, with participants joining dedicated networking sessions and other Festival activities. All shortlisted teams will receive flights and accommodation to GFF2012.

Shivani Pandya, Managing Director of the Gulf Film Festival, said: “Our efforts are focused on the future: We are cultivating a sustainable base of screen-ready film projects with the right talent attached that can move quickly into production.”

Widely regarded as the home of bold, innovative and contemporary filmmaking from the Arabian peninsula and an incubator for talent from the Gulf states, Iraq and Yemen, the Gulf Film Festival is home to a Gulf Competition for professional and student filmmakers, an international shorts competition and multiple out-of-competition segments. Film submissions to the Festival are currently pouring in ahead of its February 29 deadline.

The 2011 Gulf Film Festival drew more than 1,400 submissions from 98 countries for its three competitions. The United Arab Emirates led regional submissions, followed closely by Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iran, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Yemen. Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Morocco and Algeria also provided a significant number of entries.

The annual Festival is also home to multiple out-of-competition segments including a children’s cinema showcase, master classes, nightly industry discussions and other special events.

GFF 2012 will be held at the InterContinental Hotel, Crowne Plaza and Grand Festival Cinemas at Dubai Festival City. The Investment Corporation of Dubai is the presenting sponsor of the Gulf Film Festival; Emirates airline is its official carrier. GFF is supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority and held in association with Dubai Studio City. More details and updates on the festival are available online at www.gulffilmfest.com

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