Bahraini filmmakers welcomed the August launch of a new fund by the Bahraini Ministry of Culture, seeing it as a positive step to improve the country's developing film industry, strengthen the production level of youth films and promote national talent in the field.
Through the new initiative, a committee of local and international film experts will select a number of Bahraini filmmakers and support those chosen with up to $10,000 for every film, officials said.
The Bahrain fund to support filmmaking falls under a new ministry programme to invest in local cultural infrastructure and coincides with events throughout the kingdom celebrating Manama as the 2012 Capital of Arab Culture.
"For ten years now, the UAE has taken an interest in supporting and sponsoring film producers and directors and Doha has done the same over the past five years," said Mohammed Rashid bou Ali, the Bahraini director who proposed the idea. "We hope to get on board the Gulf bandwagon, which is keen on advancing the level of film in both its short and long feature forms."
The $10,000 "is an excellent and appropriate amount of money" to cover production expenses for a short film, he told Al-Shorfa.
"Most young Bahraini filmmakers resort to financing their films with modest budgets and out of their own pockets. Now the fund will contribute towards financing and covering technical costs such as editing, filming and other aspects," he said.
Bou Ali said he expects an official announcement of the selection process to be posted on the Culture Ministry website at the beginning of September 2012.
To qualify for funding, the film's director must be a Bahraini national, the film can be no longer than 30 minutes and it must support Bahraini tourism, identity and culture in some way, he said.
The winning films will be announced at the end of 2012, he said.
Jaafar al-Alawi, a young Bahraini poet and intellectual, said he believes the success of the fund depends on how smooth the different selection stages are and on the suitability of selection criteria.
He said the initiative is a unique and viable first step.
"The filmmaking industry in Bahrain needs an integrated approach on many levels. In addition to funding, there must be regular workshops supporting rising talent in the short and long feature film categories," he added.
Al-Alawi also suggested establishing clubs for film producers, which have proven to be successful in regional and international experiences.
The fund and its activities "will reinforce a film culture among the younger generation in Bahrain and will be a conduit for change, and will even help to create new ways to deal with local issues and community concerns", he said.
According to al-Alawi, most Bahrainis who work in the film industry usually do so outside the kingdom due to limited financial and technical resources.
Emirati and Qatari support and interest in filmmaking is "phenomenal" and should be emulated in Bahrain, he added.
Meanwhile, documentary film specialist Abdullah Faisal said he hopes the new fund will help embrace young talent, bring fame and promote Bahrain from a cultural, touristic and economic perspective.
"Underscoring the importance of local filmmaking will prompt more young graduates to specialise in this promising art form," he said. "With the right funding and the necessary technical capabilities, it will be possible to produce a Bahraini film that is internationally recognised in terms of subject matter, screenplay and plot."