Lineup includes Parkes, Till, Tellem
Abu Dhabi film commissioner David Shepheard has unveiled some of the keynote speakers set to attend the emirate’s film-financing confab, the Circle, in October.Fox Intl. Prods. topper Sanford Panitch, producer Walter Parkes, former U.K. Film Council chairman Stewart Till, CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group prexy Nancy Tellem and Arab film execs Amr Arafa and Sheikha Al-Zain Al-Sabah will take part in the event, which unspools Oct. 9-11 during Abu Dhabi’s Middle East Film Festival. At the Toronto Film Festival on Monday, Shepheard announced the five nominees for the Circle’s Shasha screenwriting competition. Saudi helmer Haifaa al-Mansour’s “Wajda,” Palestinian helmer Annemarie Jacir’s “When I Saw You,” Egyptian helmer Engi Wassef’s “The Beautiful Game,” Arab-American helmer Rezah Abi Rafeh’s “Zahra” and Lebanese helmer Nadeem Thabet’s “A Lebanese Story” will compete for the $100,000 prize. This year’s winner will also gain a first-look deal with Abu Dhabi’s film production arm, Imagenation, which is partnering for the first time with the Abu Dhabi Film Commission on the Circle. “The deal with Imagenation means this year’s winner will have a good chance of moving forward with their project quite quickly,” Shepheard said. Last year’s winner, Hicham Ayouch, went on to ink a deal with Fox’s international production arm to develop “Samba,” about a Moroccan samba teacher obsessed with a Brazilian telenovela star. This year’s Circle will also focus on the synergies between the film and TV industries. “The TV sector in the Middle East is more mature and sophisticated than the film industry, so we want to develop those areas where there can be crossover and different mediums can interact,” Shepheard added.