Top script award at DIFF for Eman Talal Alsayed

The closing night of the Dubai International Film Festival included some good news for Emirati filmmaking, with the top prize in the Arab Film Studio (AFS) Scriptwriting competition going to Eman Talal Alsayed.

Alsayed collected the accolade at the Muhr Awards for her script Blanket, a story of how the fear of possible scandal forces a 15-year-old girl into a marriage that turns out more difficult than she could ever have imagined.

She wins a AED 100,000 grant to help turn the award-winning script into movie reality. “This has given me huge confidence in my abilities and definitely developed me as a writer,” she said. “I’m looking forward to making more films!”

This is her second award in two weeks – she was a joint winner of Best Film in the Arab Film Studio Narrative 2016 programme for her short film The Choice.

The AFS Scriptwriting course is a five-month long learning programme from distributor and financer Image Nation Abu Dhabi in partnership with the Dubai Film Market (DFM), DIFF’s trade arm.

Eman competed alongside seven other students of the program, who participated in scriptwriting and pitching workshops during DFM. Eman and three other shortlisted students then progressed to a competitive pitching session with the panel of judges.

Shivani Pandya, MD of DIFF, said the festival was very happy with the success of this first ever AFS Scriptwriting programme. “We were very impressed with the final scripts. We look forward to continuing to support and nurture the next generation of screenwriters”.

Michael Garin, CEO of Image Nation, emphasised the investment in the future: “We really are creating a flourishing pool of future talent and a strong foundation for the regional film industry”.

The AFS Scriptwriting programme was introduced to the Arab Film Studio fold in 2016, joining courses AFS Narrative, AFS Documentary and AFS Young Filmmakers.

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