European film grant competitions invite entries

Entries invited for Robert Bosch Stiftung film award

Arab Film News Digest: 1-7 June 2013   This year’s Ismailia International Film Festival began in the Northern Egyptian town of Ismailia on June 4th, promising five  days of documentaries and short films. However, it was an anti-government protest that kicked off the event, with opening night fans calling for the resignation of Egypt’s new minister of culture Dr. Alaa Abdel-Aziz, a week after the minister called for a ban on ballet performances. The film festival opened with  Bart Layton’s fim The Imposter, a documentary drama about a French serial imposter who impersonated over 500 people.

Meanwhile, two film grant competitions invited film entries from the Arab world. Medimed 2013 has called for documentary film project entries from the European Union, the Middle East or Maghreb countries produced in 2012/13 (deadline 30 June). The Robert Bosch Stiftung, one of the largest philanthropic foundations in Germany, is to award three grants to film projects to young filmmakers in it’s 2014 Film Prize for International Cooperation. Entries must have both German and Arab nationals on their teams and produce part of their entry in Germany (deadline 30 September).

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Festivals show Arab films to audiences around the world

Arab Film Festival 2013 Australia

Arab Film News Digest: 25-31 May 2013   Film festival news continues as Arab film festivals open in Marseille, France; Pleasantville, New York in the USA; and later, in June, the Arab Film Festival  takes place in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney in Australia.  Meanwhile, the 16th edition of Egypt’s Ismailia International Film Festival for Documentaries and Shorts in Suez Canal city is back from 4-9 June showing 52 films from around the world and, according to the organisers, 10 world premieres.

The first International Festival of Arab Cinema began straight after the Cannes Film Festival in the French Mediterranean city of Marseille organised by Arab cultural association Aflam. In the USA, Pleasantville’s Jacob Burns Film Center opened its Contemporary Arab Cinema Series on Thursday with Safinez Bousbia’s documentary about long-lost Algerian Chaabi musicians El Gusto. The series is organised by Dubai-based Lina Matta and runs 30 May to 5 June 2013.

Down under, the 10th Arab Film Festival Australia (27 June to 14 July 2013) will open at Sydney’s Parramatta Riverside Theatre with the Australian premiere of Yousry Nasrallah’s After The Battle, which tells the story of the Tahrir Square protests in 2011, the ‘Battle of the Camels’ and the aftermath of the protests. The Festival aims to share stories and culture of the Arab world with Australian audiences, including a programme of six feature films and five short films from 10 countries. The Festival opens first in Sydney followed by a tour taking in Canberra (4-7 July) and Melbourne (12-14 July).

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Omar stands out from the crowd at Cannes 2013

Hany Abu-Assad's Omar movie impressed at Cannes 2013

Arab Film News Digest: 18-24 May 2013   The debut screening of Omar, Hany Abu-Assad’s Cannes 2013 prix un certain regard entry, all considered, could be one of the biggest film stories of the Festival. Following on from the Palestinian director’s 2005 Paradise Now movie about suicide bombers, Omar is a story of two lovers torn apart by West Bank power struggles starring Adam Bakri and Leem Lubany. Omar was not the only movie to receive a standing ovation from the Cannes audience. However, the audience reaction to the film was in stark contrast to both the booing that greeted Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives starring Ryan Gosling and the lukewarm reception that Festival’s opening night film, The Great Gatsby, received.

Read more about Omar and other Arab movie news from Cannes in the current issue of Arab Film News Digest, plus coverage on the announcements made by the Gulf’s various film boards,  new film festivals in Qatar and the UAE, not to mention news of the Maroun Baghdadi DVD box-set!

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Arab film buzz at Cannes Film Festival 2013

Ferid Boughedir is to be inducted into the French Legion of Honour

Arab Film News Digest: #Cannes  Arab film makers seem to be creating quite a buzz at Cannes this year with the festival recognising Arab movies and directors, boosted by the  film authorities of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar turning up the volume on marketing activities.

Award winning director Hany Abu-Assad premiered his new thriller, Omar, set in the Palestinian occupied territories, in the prix un certain regard section of Cannes 2013. Although the award winner has yet to be chosen, the screening already won Abu-Assad a five-minute standing ovation. Another Arab film, the joint Palestinian-Jordanian production Condom Lead directed by Mohammed Abunasser and Ahmad Abunasser is nominated for the Festival’s Short Film award, while Tunisian-French film director Abdellatif Kechiche’s La Vie D’Adele (The Life of Adele) has been nominated for the Festival’s main competition.

Cannes also provided the platform for Emirati City of Life filmmaker Ali F. Mostafa’s announcement of his new road-movie, A to B, for which he’s partnered with Egyptian writer and producer Mohamed Hefzy, Lebanese producer Paul Baboudjian and Saudi film producer Mohammed Al Turki. Meanwhile, one of the pioneers of Tunisian cinema, film director Ferid Boughedir is expected to be inducted into the French Legion of Honour this week.

The Emirati and Qatari film boards have been out in full force at Cannes Film Festival 2013 promoting the Gulf region’s fast-growing film hubs. The Doha Film Institute (DFI) announced its appointment of renowned director, actor and writer Elia Suleiman to the post of Artistic Advisor. DFI also confirmed that it will launch two new film festivals: the Ajyal Film Festival for the Young to be held in November 2013; and the Qumra Film Festival, Doha, which will take place in March 2014 and focus on upcoming directors.

Abu Dhabi’s Film Commission used its presence at Cannes to launch the region’s first incentive scheme offering rebates of up to 30% on films produced in Abu Dhabi and a list of other incentives to lure filmmakers to the Emirate.

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Arab magnates form 100m euro film partnership

Naguib Sawiris and Tarak Ben Ammar publicity shots

Arab Film News Digest: 11-17 May 2013  Egyptian telecoms magnate Naguib Sawiris and French-Tunisian media mogul Tarak Ben Ammar have just announced a 100-million euro (US$129m) film production and distribution partnership. Sawiris and Ben Ammar have already partnered to produce Beretta, an Arab-language action thriller being written and directed by Qatari filmmaker Sophia Al-Maria.

Read more about this story in the current issue of Arab Film News Digest, plus news on the Arab film industry, an interview with Saudi movie director Haifaa Al Mansour, updates from the Cannes Film Festival 2013 and film reviews of Nouri Bouzid’s City of Lights, City of Angels and Khaled Jarrar’s debut documentary Infiltrators.

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