The Abu Dhabi Film Festival's funding wing, Sanad, will now be open to non-Arab aspirants. Till now, they were confined to those from the West Asia. However, someone from, say, India, can get finance only if he or she has an Arab-themed project.
The new development has been widely welcomed, because such funding comes at a time when many moviemakers struggle to find the money. Also, Sanad's new policy will help strengthen the bridge between the West Asia and the rest of the world.
Indian writers and directors have for a while now been setting their stories in Britain, America and countries in Europe. Perhaps they could now turn their attention to West Asia, which does have superbly scenic spots.
In any case, Dubai especially has been a major hub for Indian cinema. Why the other day, Happy New Year had a grand premiere in Dubai with Shah Rukh Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Boman Irani, Deepika Padukone and Farah Khan in attendance.
Although, the Sanad budget for movie funding remains a steady $500,000 a year, the individual grants working up to $20,000 for development and $60,000 for post-production for each project can be good money for a small-time director. In addition, Sanad is expanding its co-production forum to help aspirants acquire more money.
The ongoing Abu Dhabi Film Festival's Director of Programming, Teresa Cavina, told the media that "the first step was to support works by directors of Arab descent but living abroad, who no longer have an Arab passport. Now we've taken it a step further: if there is a documentary of a film that tackles very important questions for the Arab world, we will support it even if the director has no Arab ties," she added. She cited the example of Danish director Janus Metz's documentary, Armadillo, about the Danish military operations during the war in Afghanistan, as an example of what could qualify for Sanad finance.
The Abu Dhabi Film Festival's eighth edition will close on November 1.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is covering the Abu Dhabi Film Festival)