Gulf Film Festival programmes foster emerging talent

Alongside the screenings, this year's Gulf Film Festival is building on its all-important industry sections.

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If there was ever a year in the Gulf Film Festival's (GFF) six-year history that highlighted how the event has affected the regional film industry, it's this one.

Wadjda, the critically acclaimed Saudi feature by Haifaa Al Mansour, began as a script at the very first Gulf Film Festival in 2008. And while this fact will be celebrated over the coming week, organisers want to ensure it isn't the last success story to emerge from the festival.

Under the new title of the Gulf Film Market, this year's festival has expanded its remit to help the region's emerging filmmaking talent, alongside bringing its existing programmes within one framework.

The Gulf Script Market returns for a second year. "Filmmakers from the GCC were complaining that there weren't enough good scripts in the market," explains Samr Al Marzooqi, the manager of the Dubai Film Market. "So we decided to do some sort of hub where we have a call out for scripts of shorts."

From these, up to 15 are chosen and the writers are flown over for three days of intensive workshops with mentors to help develop their scripts and learn how to pitch them to filmmakers and producers.

Also returning for a second year is the Enjaaz production fund for Gulf shorts. Unlike the Enjaaz post-production fund of the Dubai Film Market, this fund extends its reach to full production funding with up to US$50,000 (Dh183,645) awarded to up to 10 projects by filmmakers from GCC nations plus Iraq and Yemen.

Finally, there's the Gulf Forum, four days of how-to sessions, discussion panels and networking events.

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