The newly rebranded Abu Dhabi Film Festival is launching a fund totalling $500,000 per year to support productions from the Arab region.

Abu Dhabi’s film festival is launching a fund totalling $500,000 per year to support productions from the Arab region.

Sanad (which means “support” in Arabic) will provide grants in development and post-production for feature-length fiction films and documentaries by film-makers from the Arab world. Development grants will be up to $20,000 and post-production funding up to $60,000.

Also, the festival, formerly known as The Middle East International Film Festival (MEIFF) is rebranding itself as the Abu Dhabi Film Festival to reflect its home.

The selection committee for the fund will including members of ADFF’s programming and management teams along with industry professionals. The fund aims to support both new and established filmmakers “with the aim of encouraging artistic innovation.”

“Sanad is a concrete way in which the festival can support the region’s filmmakers in developing their own voices and taking their place in the international film community,” said festival executive director Peter Scarlet. “There’s an amazing amount of untapped and unrecognized creative potential in the Arab world and these grants are an important building block in the creation of a vibrant and viable cinema here, especially since they come with the kind of international opportunities and support we can offer.”

Applications for the first round of funding will be open until July 15. More info and forms are available at

The new name won’t reflect any change of focus or international and regional reach, only paying tribute to the festival’s permanent base.

“Abu Dhabi has become a common denominator in many of the region’s boldest cultural projects and the film festival is one of them.  That is why we wanted the new name to reflect a shared vision of the city as a destination where the regional and international film industry comes together to share and discover some of the stunning new films now being made in the Arab world,” said Eissa Saif Rashed Al Mazrouei, the festival’s project director.

Scarlet added: “We’re happy and proud to be based in Abu Dhabi, so why not say so? At the same time, our goal hasn’t changed: to be the principal place where the filmmakers of the Middle East can be discovered by international critics and buyers, and where the residents of Abu Dhabi can discover the best films from the region – and from all over the rest of the world.”