The Circle Conference, a program of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, concluded its second annual international film conference last week. The Circle brought together nearly 300 aspiring regional filmmakers and enthusiasts. As it concluded, they announced the winner of its international screening writing competition, the Shasha Grant, a $100,000 award aimed at launching the career of an outstanding regional filmmaker, was also recognized during a special evening ceremony. The Grant was awarded to Moroccan filmmaker Hicham Ayouch for "Sambo Do Maazouz," the story of a Moroccan who speaks and prays in Portuguese and is infatuated with Brazilian culture. "The Second Annual Circle Conference surpassed my highest expectations," said Circle Director Adrienne Briggs. "The excitement, passion and creativity of our hundreds of participants has been truly educational and inspiring." [Peter Knegt]