Cairo Industry Days builds bridges between continents
by Ola Salwa
- The second edition of the industry event, held during the 41st Cairo International Film Festival, invited over 250 industry professionals from Europe and the USA, among other nations
“The collaboration between Europe and the Arab world is something that has always been present. We had all been working on inviting industry professionals to come to Cairo Film Connection [CFC] to meet the people behind the projects and hopefully forge a collaboration – and, in the end, make a co-production,” Aliaa Zaky, head of Cairo Industry Days (CID), told Cineuropa during the 41st Cairo International Film Festival. The number of foreign industry guests shot up from 150 in 2018 to an impressive 250 this year, including 50 professionals from the Continent. The event featured seminars, master classes and a co-production platform, the Cairo Film Connection, and unspooled between 21 and 26 November. The CFC, which presents fiction and documentary projects that are either works in progress or are currently being developed, was in existence even before the Cairo Industry Days, and wrapped its sixth edition this year. “When we started in 2010, we had no cash prize, but we had ambition and an idea. The event grew with every passing year,” said festival head Mohamed Hefzy during his CFC kick-off speech. The 2019 line-up included 16 projects, with as many as seven having European co-producers on board, based in France, Germany, Italy and Sweden.
“I’m interested in the Arab world; I think it has many great stories that need to be told. I have already made one short film with Jordanian partners, and I felt that countries from this region have a great approach,” Philipp Maurice Raube, a producer from German-based Die Neue Lux, told Cineuropa. Raube is working on the documentary Big Boys Don’t Cry with Egyptian director Muhammad Mustapha. He noted that it’s easier to get post-production services than soft money in Germany for this kind of project. Perhaps the project will secure some support after the CFC, as the organisers “noted an outstanding number of 170 one-on-one meetings booked during the three days of the event”. The co-production platform also offered numerous cash and in-kind prizes (see the full list of winners below).
The European presence also included CID’s second partnership with European Film Promotion, which included a panel about promotion and (mainly festival) distribution of European films. In addition, the Arab Critics’ Award was presented to the best European film – which was deemed to be the Macedonian black comedy God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya [+see also:
interview: Labina Mitevska
interview: Teona Strugar Mitevska
film profile] by Teona Strugar Mitevska, which also recently scooped the 2019 LUX Prize (see the news).
“Since last year, we have had a partnership with the EAVE On Demand Film Script Development Workshop, and the mentors of this programme kindly gave a master class or were part of a panel,” added Zaky. She also noted that Arab countries benefit from the know-how and experience of European professionals, as well as the exposure that international film festivals can offer – but it’s not a one-way street. “A couple of years ago, I talked to someone on the Swedish Film Committee, and they said that we had some very interesting stories to offer,” added Zaky. “A lot is going on in our region, socially and politically, and we have a lot of taboos that are very interesting to tap into. People can see what is going on here and watch real-life events, not only news stories, which can be misleading. Films from our region show everyday life, not only thisimage of the Arab world as a huge war zone,” she concluded.
Here is the full list of Cairo Industry Days award winners:
Arab Cinema Center Award
Shameem - Karim Rahbani (Lebanon)
Arabia Pictures Award
Under Construction - Nadim Tabet (Tunisia/France)
Leila and I - Maggie Morgan (Egypt)
The Station - Sara Ishaq (Yemen/Jordan)
Ensan Films Award
The Land Beyond - Nadine Salib (Egypt)
Iraqi Cinema Award
A House for Expats - Naji Ismail (Egypt)
Leyth Production Award
The Life and Times of Omar Sharif - Mark Lotfy, Axel Petersen (Egypt/Sweden)
The Life and Times of Omar Sharif - Mark Lotfy, Axel Petersen
New Century Award
About Her - Islam El Azzazi (Egypt)
Europa - Haider Rashid (Italy/Iraq)
RED Sea Award
Under Construction - Nadim Tabet
About Her - Islam El Azzazi
The Cell Award
The Disqualified - Hamza Ouni
Jury Special Mention
On the Trail of Yamile - Fatma Racha Shehadeh (Lebanon)
Script Doctoring Award by Mariam Naoum, offered by Sard
Leila and I - Maggie Morgan
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