The first Middle East and North Africa edition of the SundanceTV Shorts competition, held in partnership with beIN Media Group and the Doha Film Institute, has received more than 300 submissions from across the Arab world, as the deadline closes today.
The SundanceTV initiative to foster indie filmmaking in the Middle East and North Africa – which follows editions of this competition in Europe and South Africa – has seen the bulk of shorts coming from Qatar, Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon, and Egypt, with entries also arriving from Yemen, Libya, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iraq, among other countries.
The Arabic shorts, all under 15 minutes long and with English subtitles, unless English is their spoken language, will be judged by a panel presided by AMC Networks Intl. exec VP programming Harold Gronenthal.
The jury also comprises Uma Thurman, Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir (“Wajib”) and Qatari-American artist and filmmaker Sophia Al-Maria (pictured from left to right).
The competition’s winning entry and the three runners-up will be announced during the Doha Film Institute’s upcoming Ajyal Film Festival dedicated to fostering filmmaking in the region set to run as a hybrid event Nov. 11-23. The top four shorts will also air on SundanceTV in the U.S. and on beIN in MENA.
The winning short’s director will participate in a promotional masterclass with Thurman.
Doha-based beIN Media Group has more than 180 pay-TV channels worldwide, aired mostly across the Middle East and North Africa, but also in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. Like most pay-TV operators they also have an OTT platform called beIN CONNECT.
BeIN controls top Turkish paybox Digiturk and sports channels in France, Spain the U.S. and Australia. In recent months due to the pandemic they have been suffering from a dearth of live sports and are boosting their entertainment offer, including film. They hold a 51% stake in Miramax, having sold a 49% portion of the U.S. studio to ViacomCBS in December.
BeIN Media Group CEO Yousef Al-Obaidly in a statement underlined the strategic significance of the partnership with SundanceTV through which beIN will become the “perfect platform for upcoming and established Arab storytellers to showcase their talent to a global audience.”