15th August, 2016


The winner will receive funding of 100,000 AED to produce a feature length film

Abu Dhabi, 1st August, 2016: Eight aspiring filmmakers have been picked to be a part of a brand new scriptwriting program, created in partnership by Image Nation Abu Dhabi, one of the leading media and entertainment companies in the Middle East, and the industry arm of DIFF, Dubai Film Market (DFM). The program, part of Image Nation’s Arab Film Studio series, will see the winner receive funding of 100,000 AED to produce a feature length film.

This year’s first batch of participants include award-winning amateur filmmakers who are looking to expand upon their skills and jump start a professional career in the film industry.

Afnan Alqasimi, a 23 year-old student, who won a Best Script Award from the New York Film Academy said: “Learning, training and working are very important in the world of cinema and one must continuously seek opportunities to improve their craft.”

“I hope Arab Film Studio will finally be the chance for me to learn how to write the kind of scripts that I have always wanted to write, how to correctly manage my thoughts, and help me to gain confidence in my abilities.”

The course, which starts this month and will cover a 5-month long learning program, will include a 3-week intensive workshop focusing on all aspects of scriptwriting – from story concept to character development. This will be followed by a 3-month assignment, where participants will be asked to conceive a short film screenplay using the skills learnt on the course.

Alicia Gonzalez, Head of Training & Development at Image Nation Abu Dhabi, said:“AFS Scriptwriting is designed to fine-tune the existing writing skills of filmmakers. The key to any great film is the story and often this can be the hardest part of the production process. We are looking forward to connecting emerging talent with our training experts to create some fantastic stories.”

All participants will attend a 2-day pitching coaching session during Dubai Film Festival 2016 (Dec 7-14). Four scripts will then be shortlisted and selected to participate in the Dubai Film Market, where the writers will pitch their projects to a panel of industry professionals.

Shivani Pandya, DIFF’s Managing Director said: “Supporting the regional film industry at all levels – from budding scriptwriters to experienced producers – is such an important part of DIFF and so we are very excited to join forces with Image Nation to foster talent within the UAE. Participants will get the chance to take advantage and utilise a global industry platform at the Dubai Film Market this December. We cannot wait to see the exceptional stories from the inaugural programme and the new writers inspired by this opportunity that are sure to come.”

AFS Scriptwriting adds to the stellar Arab Film Studio program, which includes AFS Narrative, AFS Documentary, and AFS Young Filmmakers in partnership with NYU Abu Dhabi. The training and development program, which started in 2011, is celebrating five years of filmmaking programs this year.

Past graduates of the Arab Film Studio programs have gone on to screen their work at international film festivals and win awards the world over.

Michael Garin, CEO at Image Nation Abu Dhabi, said: “Image Nation is proud of providing world class training opportunities for passionate individuals in the region. This could not be executed without strong partnerships with film entities such as DIFF and together we can nurture the next generation of talent and build a thriving film industry in the UAE.”

The winner of the competition and the 100,000 AED film grant will be announced later this year.

This year’s participants: 

Abdelrahman Adam, 21year-old, Egyptian Student

Afnan Alqasimi, 23 year-old student

Arkus, 30 year-old, Indian filmmaker

Eman Talal Alsayed, 21 year-old, Emirati University graduate

Jaffar Mahmoud, 24 year-old, American University graduate

Rhea Mary Oommen, 21 year-old Indian student

Sara Saber, 32 year-old Egyptian, filmmaker

Suha Najjar, 35 year-old Jordanian, creative writer