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SANAD funded films vie for the Oscars

DIFF1Three of the seven Arab films being considered for the Best Foreign Language Film category in the 2016 Academy Awards were funded by SANAD, demonstrating the quality and success of this Abu Dhabi-based initiative to support Arab film making.

The SANAD funded Oscar submissions for 2015/16 are:

•    Theeb by Naji Abu Nowar, submitted by Jordan

•    The Wanted 18 by Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan, submitted by Palestine

•    Iraqi Odyssey by Samir and was submitted by Switzerland’s Federal Office of Culture

In addition to the SANAD funded films, Void from Lebanon, Aida from Morocco, Memories of Stone from Iraq, and Twilight of Shadows from Algeria complete the list of seven Arab films submitted to the Oscars this year.

Theeb has won more than 25 awards worldwide since its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival where it received the Best Director Award in the Orrizonti Competition and then Best Arab Film Award in the New Horizons Competition at Abu Dhabi Film Festival in 2014.The film has received international distribution throughout 12 countries and is set to premiere in the United States later this year.

The Wanted 18 had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival where renowned documentary filmmaker Michael Moore attended and spoke in support of the film at the screening. The first award for the film was won at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival in 2014 for Best Arab Documentary, and has received critical acclaim from Variety, LA Times and New York Times.

After the world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival in 2014, Iraqi Odyssey won the NETPAC Award for the Best Asian Film at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival as well as the Panorama Audience Award at the Berlin Film Festival. The English-language version of the film was released by Typecast Films in New York and Los Angeles on 27 November of this year and will be released worldwide in 2016.

Ali Al Jabri, Director of SANAD said, “We are incredibly proud that almost 50% of the Arab film submissions to the Oscars this year were supported by SANAD. This recognition of the quality of films we support from the international film community is hugely encouraging, and demonstrates the growing appetite of audiences for seeing the latest films from the region. Exposure at an event the calibre of the Oscars paves the way for more Arab films to be nominated and recognised at an international level.”

Films funded by SANAD that were submitted to the Oscars over the last six years were from Iraq, Morocco and Palestine. These films include:

•    Son of Babylon by Mohamed Al Daradji from Iraq in 2010

•    When I saw You by Annemarie Jacir from Palestine in 2012

•    Death for Sale by Fauzi Bensaidi from Morocco in 2012.

In addition to providing Arab filmmakers with financial support towards the development and post-production stages of their projects, SANAD Film Fund also helps its grantees connect with potential partners and get access to further funding opportunities and exposure to wider audiences.

A number of SANAD funded films have made their way into prominent film events around the globe this year including As I Open My Eyes by Leyla Bouzid at this year’s Venice International Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival as well as Madame Courage by Merzak Allouache at this year’s Venice International Film Festival and London Film Festival.