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Change and exchange with Cairo Film Connection - Daily News Egypt

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Change and exchange with Cairo Film Connection

Speculation on the Cairo International Film Festival’s (CIFF) past years of limited exposure, lack of opportunity for budding new talent, and the absence of a space to exchange ideas and works, has prompted a new initiative within the CIFF. Collaboration between the Egyptian Film Center and Misr International Films has resulted in the festival’s first …


Speculation on the Cairo International Film Festival’s (CIFF) past years of limited exposure, lack of opportunity for budding new talent, and the absence of a space to exchange ideas and works, has prompted a new initiative within the CIFF. Collaboration between the Egyptian Film Center and Misr International Films has resulted in the festival’s first ever Cairo Film Connection, an effort to foster a much needed forum for discussion and exchange.

The Cairo Film Connection is the creation of Marianne Khoury, whose contributions to Cairo’s film and cinema culture, especially through the developments of the CIFF, have been crucial. As the managing partner of Misr International Films, as well as the niece of national cinema icon Youssef Chahine, one might say that innovations to such a crucial event in Egypt’s international film industry run in Khoury’s blood.

The concept behind the Cairo Film Connection was inspired by a notable stagnation in the festival’s legacy, where both filmmakers and audiences sensed a lack of opportunity beyond exhibiting their works amongst peers. With a limited platform available to exchange ideas and to network with artists, production companies, and critics alike, the need for change has been evident for quite some time.

While the festival’s film choice is oft praised by critics and attended by nearly every branch of regional press and media, critics have voiced concern over the fact that in spite of its roster of rarely seen films, exposure is poor, making both the prospective audience as well as the participating filmmakers and artists suffer.

To remedy this, the first Cairo Film Connection has provided a platform for exchange within the festival, and hope for increased exposure to a broader audience. Taking a tip from the Dubai International Film Festival, Cairo Film Connection held a contest this year calling for submissions by experienced filmmakers. Contestants must be of Arab origin, and have documented experience in the film. The winning script, which was announced on Dec. 7, received a prize of LE 100,000 for production costs, while two scripts in post-production phases competed for extra funding towards their completion process.

Narrowing down a list of submissions from 35 scripts to the final 10, the contest jury consisted of Lebanese-Iranian-French writer Jacques Akchoti, Egyptian director Samir Seif, British producer Sue Austen, French author Marie-Pierre Muller, and the project’s creator, Marianne Khoury.

While competition has been a key component of the CIFF since its beginning, it has suffered from a lack of exposure to the public, both for audiences and filmmakers.

Besides the substantial prize, the real hope, as expressed by Khoury, is to breathe a new life and energy into the film festival by encouraging an exchange of works that reaches beyond the festival event itself, and influences Egypt’s cinema industry as a whole.

Narrowing down a list of submissions from 35 scripts to the final 10, the contest jury consisted of Lebanese-Iranian-French writer Jacques Akchoti, Egyptian director Samir Seif, British producer Sue Austen, French author Marie-Pierre Muller, and the project’s creator, Marianne Khoury.

The final 10 films selected for the competition were “Metronome” directed by Islam El-Azzazi, “My Australian Son” directed by Assad Fouladkar, “Rehleh: directed by Meyar El-Roumy, “Sahara” directed by Ahmed Rashwan, “Seducing Leila” directed by Assaad Kelada, “The Sales Agent” directed by Alaa Azzam, “Until Morning” directed by Hisham Bizri, “When We Are Born” directed by Tamer Ezzat, “When Traffic Stops” directed by Wael Omar and Rasha El-Gammal, and “69 Messaha” directed by Ayten Amin.

Films “Two Meters of this Land” directed by Ahmed El-Natche and produced by Mood Swing, and “The Last Days of the City,” directed by Tamer El-Said and produced by Zero Productions, were bidding for the co-production prize.

Ayten Amin’s “69 Messaha” was the winner of the grand LE 100,000 prize.

Emotive Exchange
To commemorate the first Cairo Film Connection award ceremony, acclaimed author and film scholar Guliana Bruno, professor of visual and environmental studies at Harvard University, held a lecture on the importance of cultural and emotive exchange within the media of cinema. Bruno was accompanied by a panel fellow scholars and filmmakers consisting of Victor Okhai of Lagos, director Milad Bessada (of “The Search for Diana” fame), and Marianne Khoury herself.

The event also aimed to provide a venue for participants to meet, network, and discuss their works.

As a study on the transformative powers of cinema across cultures and medium, the forum was an appropriate segue into the awards ceremony, providing insight into the core concept of the Cairo Film Connection, which Bruno proclaimed to be an “extremely interesting way to have a discussion amongst filmmakers.”

In spite of speculation in the industry that cinema is experiencing its demise, Bruno provided an analysis of progressive hope for current and future filmmakers. Relating to her own work as a scholar of cinematic history, Bruno relayed her experience in searching through the archives of her native Italy’s silent film records to her first visit to Cairo: “The silent film industry is like Egyptian archeology; you must work with and search through ruins to find what you need.”

Her talks covered a multitude of genres, from silent film to digital installation art, proclaiming that all are necessary ingredients in the lexicon of modern cinema.

Khoury’s comments on the necessity to reinvent the art form and to push boundaries mirrored the active desire within Egypt’s film industry to reinvent and explore. In a clever play on words, Khoury mused that the world “emotion,” as used by Bruno, incorporates the concept of electronic motion as an art form.

With the evolution of digital media and the demise of celluloid film, Bruno proposed that it is reinvention, not defeat, that should be taking place — hence the importance of exchange and discussion within Egypt’s cinema makers.

“Cinema has a mummy complex,” said Bruno, echoing the words of French critic Andre Bazin. Drawing on her own experience of seeing the ancient mummies in the Egyptian Museum, Bruno related the idea not as one ruled by death, but one as experiencing life as it happened once, capturing the experiences of different times.

“Cinema relies on a kind of paradox. When you film a moment, you capture it forever. But the moment is gone. The moment is dead.”

Such concepts of transmuting experiences through time likewise apply to communicating across cultures, mediums and genres — a concept that filmmakers and festival goers alike have been fortunate enough to partake in through the first installment of the Cairo Film Connection.

 

 

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https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2010/12/09/change-and-exchange-with-cairo-film-connection/
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