Al-Jazeera to fund indie pix

$1.4M to aid indie productions

Arabic satcaster Al-Jazeera is sponsoring a $1.4 million initiative to fund independent film and TV production.

The Al-Jazeera Sponsorship Fund, dubbed Riaya, will offer grants to support and develop indie productions, and young directors and producers. Application process is set to launch within the year.

Move was announced Wednesday at the Al-Jazeera Intl. Television Production Festival in Doha, Qatar.

In addition to financial support, the fund will provide regular training sessions, workshops and technical services to aspiring indie filmmakers.

It’s the first time Al-Jazeera has moved into financing and developing projects not specifically intended for broadcast on its own channels.

“This fund is not only intended to finance productions but also to create a culture of support for independent producers and to offer training, marketing and guidance for emerging talent,” Al-Jazeera managing director Wadah Khanfar told Daily Variety. “This institution is just the beginning of what we intend as a first step in fostering the development of arts and culture in the region and beyond.”