Al Massad wins Shasha Grant

Filmmaker receives $100,000 to development 'Blessed Benefit'

LONDON — The Abu Dhabi Film Commission has chosen Jordanian writer and producer Mahmoud Al Massad as the winner of its annual screenwriting competition, the Shasha Grant, worth $100,000.

The coin will be used to fund development of his project “Blessed Benefit.”

Al Massad is a graduate of the Sundance Institute, who previously won a World Cinema Award at the Sundance Film Festival for his 2008 documentary “Recycle.” His doc “This Is My Picture When I Was Dead” won best doc at the Dubai Film Festival.

“Blessed Benefit” is the story of a construction worker who is sent to prison after getting mixed up in a bad business deal. When he loses his last chance to prove his innocence, he realizes that his life in prison might be better than the one he had outside.

The Shasha Grant, which has been running for five years, is one of the biggest production prizes in the Middle East.

It is judged by leading film executives and producers from around the world. As well as giving money to develop the winning script, the ADFC works with the filmmaker to bring the project into production.

“By cultivating the next generation of Middle Eastern filmmakers and fast-tracking the development process for them, the Shasha Grant remains a vital part of our mission to promote Abu Dhabi as a center of excellence in film development and production,” said ADFC director David Shepheard.

“The richness, diversity and quality of scriptwriting represented through the Shasha finalists makes me optimistic about the presence of Arab cinema in the international scene over the coming years,” commented Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy.