eQuinoxe, the international mentoring association that runs workshops for screenwriters, has set up in the Middle East. EQuinoxe Arabiya is styling itself as an 'incubator' focused on mentoring Arab filmmakers and their projects.

A not-for-profit offshoot of Haroun Multimedia, an animation and post-production house based in Dubai Media City, the association aims to reverse the 'brain drain' prevalent in the region that sees successful Arab filmmakers take their talents abroad.

'We've put out a call for Arab talent, within the region and to the diaspora too, with a view to selecting up to twelve projects in the first phase,'

Wissam Haroun, CEO, eQuinoxe Arabiya, told ScreenDaily.com. 'The idea is to mentor the strongest projects, via the network of 300 mentors serving eQuinoxe worldwide, and a series of intensive workshops. We have a good rate of return - over half the screenplays going through eQuinoxe since it began

18 years ago have been produced.'

These films include Rachid Bouchareb's Little Senegal, Omar Naim's The Final Cut, Asif Kapadia's The Warrior, and Alain Berliner's Ma Vie En Rose.

eQuinoxe has previously signed licensing deals with companies in Egypt, Lebanon and Morocco, but these are dormant, says Haroun. The Dubai deal with eQuinoxe excludes Haroun from setting up in these countries but not from seeking talent there.

In the final phase of the mentoring scheme, the selected projects will be pitched to producers and financiers, abroad and within the region. eQuinoxe Arabiya aims to build up a network of Arab industry figures and tap into new sources of film finance springing up in the Gulf. The Abu Dhabi Film Fund was announced during Cannes this year, although its plans and criteria are yet to be formalized, while the long-awaited Dubai Film Fund is expected to launch by the end of the year.