Projects from Israel, Syria and Egypt received development and production awards today at the Locarno Film Festival's Open Doors co-production forum, which was dedicated to the Near and Middle Eastern cinema.

The two grants of $41,890 (CHF 50,000) for development and production, provided by Switzerland's Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and jointly allocated by the film festival and the Visions Sud Est production fund, were awarded to:

Palestinian director Tawfik Abu-Wael's $1.5m Tumbling (Tanathor), which will be produced by Israel's Amir Harel of Lama Films, and Syrian director Meyar Al Roumi's first feature Le Chemin Des Figuiers, to be produced by Emmanuel Agneray and Jerome Bleitrach's Paris-based Bizibi Productions.

For the second year running, France's CNC presented an award of $13,808 (Euros 10,000) for a feature in development, choosing Israeli director Ra'anan Alexandrowicz's documentary Justice Must Be Seen which will be a critique of the Israeli military system over the past 40 years.

In addition, the CNC gave a second prize of an all-expenses paid two-month stay at the Moulin d'Ande writers residency for Egypt's Nadine Khan to work on her first feature Chaos And Disorder (Harag We Marag).

This year's Open Doors saw the directors and producers of the 13 selected projects having the opportunity to meet potential co-producers in one-to-one meetings over the past two days.

Sales companies Beta Cinema, The Match Factory, Bavaria Film International, Onoma and producers Marcelo Busse (Busse & Halberschmidt), Kirsty Peart (Film Foundry), Mark John (Vision Thing), and Thanassis Karathanos (Twenty Twenty) were among the participants from Western Europe.

Speaking to, Jordanian director Hazim Bitar of the Amman Filmmakers Cooperative, who was pitching his first directorial feature From Nowhere With Love, was very positive about having made the trip to Locarno for the second year after having been at the festival last year for the Leopards Of Tomorrow showcase of shorts from the Middle East.

'It really has been an 'open doors' experience for us. In the past, it was very difficult to reach out to these producers, but now this platform has brought us all together in one place,' Bitar said. 'I believe that this is a relationship for the long term which goes beyond this one event. Even if we left with just the experience of going through this process, this is still new information that we can take back to our filmmakers in Jordan. And we now have a network of contacts in other countries.'

Meanwhile, discussions were held on the sidelines of the Open Doors event by Euromed's Catherine Buresi with such leading industry figures from the region as Katriel Schory of the Israel Film Fund and Michel Demopoulos of Greece's ERT on the future of the European Union's support for the film industry in the Mediterranean area after the Euromed Audiovisual II Programme comes to an end next year.