Red Sea Lodge to award two $500,000 grants to emerging Arab filmmakers

Twelve teams of filmmakers are up for the prize, the winners of which will be revealed later this month

epa05461097 Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah poses during a photocall for 'Al ma' khodra wal wajeh el Hassan' at the 69th Locarno International Film Festival, in Locarno, Switzerland, 07 August 2016. The Festival del film Locarno runs from 03 to 13 August.  EPA/ALEXANDRA WEY
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The Red Sea Lodge will award two production grants – worth $500,000 (Dh104,487) each – to emerging filmmakers from the Arab world in an online ceremony this month.

Twelve projects have been shortlisted for the inaugural award, which is part of a training initiative to bolster the development of feature films from the Arab world.

The 12 teams of filmmakers – six from Saudi Arabia, the others from Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon – have been working on their projects through residential programmes in Jeddah's Old Town since October 2019.

Now, a jury has been formed to pick the two winning teams and hand out the production grants in an online event taking place on Friday, September 25. The jury comprises Russian film producer Nadia Turincev, producer, commissioner and writer Meinolf Zurhorst, and Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah.

"It is with great pleasure that I accept the responsibility to be part of the jury of the Red Sea Film Lodge," Nasrallah said, in a statement. "I sincerely hope that this generous production grant will help Arab filmmakers and Arab cinema reach new heights."

The Lodge has given the filmmakers the chance to hone their vision as well as take part in mentorship programmes with industry experts. The residency was designed for directors, producers and scriptwriters with projects in any stage of development.

“The Red Sea Lodge production grant is a fantastic opportunity for Arab filmmakers to bring their projects to life, giving the world a chance to discover new emerging talents,” Turincev said.

For the last phase of the residency aspiring filmmakers will take part in online meetings to prepare them to pitch their films to the international co-production forum TorinoFilmLab, in November. This was initially scheduled to take place in March as part of the Red Sea Film Festival. However, like the festival, it was delayed because of the coronavirus .

The residency will now resume as a digital event from Monday, October 19.

“The collaboration with the Red Sea Film Lodge has exceeded all expectations, even with the interruption caused by the unforeseeable global pandemic,” said Savina Neirotti, executive director, TorinoFilmLab.

“The 12 projects have developed and evolved into fantastic projects and we are sure many of them will end up as films, whether they are awarded the production grant or not.”